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Nebraska HIE Expands PDMP Use for Public Health Surveillance

Nebraska used its PDMP technology to help address challenges related to the COVID-19 pandemic by expanding HIE capabilities.

ONC is working to address the opioid epidemic through its support for nationwide health information exchange (HIE), including prescription drug monitoring programs (PDMPs), according to a HealthITBuzz blog post.

PDMPs are state-run electronic databases that assemble pharmacy and patient data from Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) controlled substances and prescription drugs. PDMPs help prescribers keep track of patients at high risk of becoming opioid-dependent.

Some states and territories have leveraged PDMPs to help address challenges related to the COVID-19 pandemic by expanding system capabilities.

As an early adopter of PDMP, Nebraska used its existing PDMP infrastructure and expanded its capabilities to collect and report medications beyond traditional controlled substances.

Nebraska’s statewide HIE CyncHealth leveraged PDMP data to identify patients on prescriptions typically used to treat chronic diseases or medications that could suppress the immune system.

The HIE shared this information with the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS). Then, they worked together to plan a project that used public health data on patients with COVID-19 to search for correlations of concomitant medications that might impact morbidity or mortality rates.  

“Nebraska continues to focus on using its PDMP, as well as CyncHealth, for patient safety and population health projects to understand, and ultimately improve patient care,” Donna Davidson, interoperability division policy coordinator at the ONC Office of Policy, and Kevin Borcher, CyncHealth's VP of PDMP & pharmacy programs, wrote in the blog post.

“Nebraska DHHS and CyncHealth continue to set an example of the great successes that can be achieved through collaboration between the PDMP, HIE, and state public health agency,” they added.

Several ONC resources and projects aim to support PDMP adoption and use.

ONC’s report “Leveraging PDMPs and Health IT for Addressing Substance Use Disorder and Opioid Use Disorder (LPASO)” examines how PDMP policies and technology can support substance and opioid misuse identification, prevention, and treatment in states and territories.

Through LPASO, ONC supported the development of a toolkit, “State Strategies to Improve the Use of Prescription Drug Monitoring Programs to Address Opioid and Other Substance Use Disorders.”

The toolkit outlines state PDMP policies and identifies opportunities to improve access to and ease of use of PDMP information by healthcare providers.

“Both LPASO and the toolkit are valuable resources for states and other stakeholders that are considering strategies for advancing their PDMP policies and technology,” Davidson and Borcher concluded.

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