What We're Reading: State Prescription Databases Fight the Opioid Epidemic

What we're reading, September 6, 2016: state prescription databases play a role in fighting the opioid epidemic; experimenting with transition models to reduce gaps in care; and how electronic health records slow down doctors.

State prescription databases are playing an increasingly important role as the United States battles a growing opioid epidemic. The Wall Street Journal reported that the 30% drop in the prescribing rate for opioids between 2001 and 2010 could be attributed to the use of state databases in 24 states. A greater awareness by physicians of substance abuse and scrutiny of prescribing behavior also lead to the decrease.

Leaving the hospital to go home or to a nursing facility can be risky for patients, especially elderly ones. During the transition from the hospital, problems can occur as gaps in care and communication persist, according to Kaiser Health News. With the government penalizing hospitals for readmissions, hospitals and community groups are experimenting with transition models that strengthen communication, use technology to track patients, or use partnerships between hospitals and community groups to provide social services.

Electronic health records (EHRs) slow down doctors and take away from time with patients. Jonathan Bush, CEO and president of athenahealth, wrote in STAT that these findings, published in Annals of Internal Medicine, were not particularly surprising. He wrote that EHRs “inflict enormous pain” on doctors and lead to dissatisfaction among providers, frustration among patients, and increased healthcare costs. He calls for healthcare to embrace the user-centric innovations of Amazon, Facebook, Uber, and other revolutionaries with network-enabled technology.