Indiana Health System's Opioid Prescriptions Down 13 Percent Using New Tracking Program

Mar 13, 2019

Indiana health systems are seeing a reduction in opioid prescriptions in response to the state’s epidemic. 

Indiana University Health took measures to address opioid overprescribing at about the same time the state made moves. 

By integrating the state’s prescription monitoring system with its own, IU Health now tracks every opioid prescription. It has also established guidelines for best practices when prescribing.

IU Health Chief Medical Executive Jonathan Gottlieb says this has allowed prescribers to reassess their practices.

"I think Brandeis said ‘sunlight is the best disinfectant.’ There is very little else we’ve needed to do so far, other than showing the data," says Gottlieb. 

New numbers show IU Health reduced prescriptions by 13 percent last year compared to 2017, and by 36 percent in emergency departments. 

IU Health has also established guidelines for best practices when prescribing.

"What’s the standard opioid prescribing, or what’s the safe minimum amount for an appendectomy or some laparoscopic surgery? And then build those into our order sets to reduce the variation,"  says Gottlieb.

Overprescribing opioids played a role in the addiction epidemic. Gottlieb says reframing prescriber education and alternative pain reduction methods are also needed.

"There are effective ways to address pain, and in fact, some of those data and some of those studies are just coming out now," he says. 

There’s no clear data to show that these reductions could lead to a decline in overdoses – which are still on the rise in Indiana. But experts say efforts can help prevent others from becoming addicted.