Technology

Hospital Association Funds Opioid-Tracking Tool for New Jersey Emergency Rooms

The New Jersey Hospital Association, along with its Health Research and Educational Trust, will fund a software platform that will make it easier to track opioid prescriptions and identify proper treatments for ER patients.

On the front lines of the opioid crisis, one of the most critical tools that hospital emergency room doctors need to save lives is basic information about a patient’s prescription history. But stopping to search a database can take precious time that a patient may not have.

This week, the New Jersey Hospital Association and its Health Research and Educational Trust announced a plan to fund a tracking tool that will eliminate the need for healthcare providers to go looking for that information. Instead, the tool pushes alerts to the emergency department when a patient is entered into the system, supplying real-time information from a variety of care settings and helping ER doctors to identify patients who have been traveling to multiple hospitals or other facilities to  get opioid prescriptions.

New Jersey saw a 35 percent increase in opioid deaths between July 2016 and June 2017, with 2,284 overdose deaths reported during the period, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“We’ve seen far too many drug victims come into our EDs when it’s already too late to save them,” NJHA President and CEO Cathy Bennett said in a news release. “NJHA has embraced a new mission and vision of improving the health and well-being of the people in our state, and today we’re backing that commitment with a significant investment. While opioid abuse is one of our most urgent needs, this resource has the potential to be a powerful population health tool through better coordination across care settings.”

The association collaborated with the software provider Collective Medical to bring the platform to New Jersey. Previously, the system has been used in Washington and Massachusetts, among other states. NJHA worked with the New Jersey chapter of the American College of Emergency Physicians (ACEP) to arrange site visits to facilities in those states, where doctors observed the tool in action.

Marjory Langer, president of ACEP’s New Jersey chapter, said the tool “will remove the communication barriers between EDs and other emergency care settings and help emergency physicians to better identify, manage, and treat patients struggling with opioid addiction.”

(Cecilie_Arcurs/E+/Getty Images Plus)

Ernie Smith

By Ernie Smith

Ernie Smith is the social media journalist for Associations Now, a former newspaper guy, and a man who is dangerous when armed with a good pun. MORE

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