Southern Ohio Medical Center battles the opioid crisis and drives change in their community

May 21, 2024 |  Patient Safety, Healthcare IT, Video, Transformative Technology

Southern Ohio Medical Center battles the opioid crisis and drives change in their community

According to the CDC, overdose deaths have continued to rise in recent years. Between September 2022 and September 2023, deaths by overdose surged, claiming over 100,000 lives in that year alone. This is a problem that continues to require innovative solutions and ways to mitigate risk. MEDITECH customer Southern Ohio Medical Center (SOMC) is tackling the problem in their community head on.

SOMC took a proactive approach to battling opioid addiction by implementing MEDITECH’s Opioid Stewardship Toolkit. This tool kit enables clinicians to: 

  • Easily check state prescription drug monitoring databases (PDMP)
  • Perform risk assessments with the Opioid Risk Tool (ORT)
  • Track patients’ risk or history of opioid use disorder or substance use disorder
  • Manage pain for patients that are both opioid tolerant and/or opioid naive (though may be at risk)
  • Receive alerts when naloxone should be co-prescribed with opioids
  • Operationalize opioid agreements or contracts
  • Track and receive alerts based on morphine milligram equivalent thresholds
  • Provide guidance on indications for co-prescribing of naloxone
  • Make opioid risk information more readily available in the patient chart.

Dr. Sarah Porter, Senior Medical Director at SOMC (Portsmouth, Ohio), was recently interviewed by HealthData Management regarding her organization’s battle against the opioid crisis. 

“To be the center of the problem, we also want to be the center of the solution,” declared Dr. Porter. 

At the start of Porter’s career she worked strictly in a clinical setting, but recognizing the power of technology to enable data analytics and workflow interventions to improve quality and outcomes, she has since distinguished herself as a powerful informatics leader. Dr. Porter is a champion in her community for positive change and enablement of technology to drive improvement. 

MEDITECH’s toolkit empowers organizations to easily enable key evidence-based interventions. These interventions help clinicians have effective conversations with patients and support decision-making. Dr. Porter speaks to the impact that implementing this toolkit has had on her organization. 

“With MEDITECH on board we’ve been able to make a lot of progress. With patient registries and the opioid toolkit we were able to identify places in need of quality improvements and take the necessary steps to get those projects underway.”

The ability of the EHR to drive standardization is vital when addressing opioid misuse. SOMC stresses the importance of continuity and comprehensiveness of medical records for patients. Considering the amount of hand-offs among healthcare providers, the EHR and interoperability standards have the potential to provide the most reliable, accurate, and timely information to the clinician. Standardized care also enhances communication among providers, ensuring that all data is being captured.

There is a lot of stigma surrounding opioid addiction, and part of the reason for this is a lack of dialogue on the issue in the past. SOMC is breaking barriers within their community by modeling honest conversations regarding addiction and committing to the improvement of patient and provider communication. 

Dr. Porter emphasizes the importance of putting the stigma aside when it comes to treating patients with opioid use disorder or substance use disorder – and I couldn't agree more. Knowing that someone is at risk of addiction or has a history of addiction can make a life or death difference, and a conversation with a patient about their history and risk of OUD/SUD alone reduces risk. 

Providers need to see the whole picture, especially when it comes to addiction. Clear communication and seamless sharing of information is key to learning about a child or family member’s exposure to opioids and the reason providers initiate conversations detailing effective interventions to prevent future harm.

With the support of MEDITECH’s opioid toolkit, SOMC is empowering patients and families with more information about risks and providing important guidance on understanding the potential for addiction. Dr. Porter is a valuable thought leader in her community, and continues to battle opioid addiction one patient conversation at a time. 

Watch the full interview to hear more from Dr. Porter and see the impact of taking a proactive approach to the opioid crisis.

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Written by Janet Desroche, Associate Vice President, MEDITECH

Janet Desroche is a member of the CHIME Opioid Task Force and has been an integral part of the MEDITECH organization for over 30 years. During this period, her numerous contributions to Administrative, Revenue Cycle, and Advanced Clinical products have elevated the level of our software. In her current Associate Vice President role, she is instrumental in creating new content, advanced clinical decision support strategies, EHR Excellence Toolkits, Physician programs, and EHR Enabled Quality Improvement programs targeted to improved outcomes and health status.