Prescription monitoring tools have been around for several years as an attempt to curtail illicit use and prescription drug fraud tactics. These tools, employed by many states throughout the county, were designed to alert prescribers, pharmacies and law enforcement if patients had recently received the same prescription from another doctor, or if they had been filling prescriptions in other pharmacies. This system prevents doctors from unknowingly prescribing powerful opioids to patients who are planning on abusing the pills or selling them to other addicts. However, the monitoring system has been met with some resistance.
Some people have voiced concerns over the privacy rights of patients. Since the monitoring tools are designed to prevent illicit drug use, law enforcement, attorneys and computer analysts could potentially have access to the records, which sounded alarm bells in critics. The system also relies heavily on doctors and pharmacists filling out the required data in order for the tool to be effective. If a doctor does not a log a patient’s information into the system, then any other doctor checking the history will not know that the patient had already seen a doctor for a prescription.
However, advocates for the monitoring systems have pushed through the criticisms and have made strides in implementing them in most states throughout the country. Not only are more areas using the programs, but more and more doctors are entering information as well. Perhaps the record numbers of deaths caused by prescription drug abuse has spurred some more action.
Massachusetts is one state that has embraced the technology, funneling more money and resources into the development and advertisement of the monitoring tool. Addiction experts in the state have agreed that the more doctors they can get to use the tool, the more successful the state will be in reducing the amount of people who are addicted to prescription painkillers.
“This is an epidemic that has been building for years, but I am hopeful in the fact that never before has the commonwealth committed so many resources to addressing opioid misuse disorder, and we are going to continue this comprehensive approach no matter how long it takes,” explained Public Health Commissioner Monica Bharel.
And while the monitoring tools are not without faults, they are making it easier for doctors to watch out for their patients’ overall health more.