Through prescriber education and monitoring, AHQA is fighting the overprescription of opioid drugs that has led to an epidemic of addiction.
Healthcare • American Health Quality Association
The epidemic of opioid addiction that has claimed so many lives can be traced to the overprescription of drugs, says the American Health Quality Association.
One of the fastest-growing demographics for opioid addiction is Medicare recipients, says AHQA Executive Director Alison Teitelbaum, MS, MPH, CAE. “It’s a demographic that a lot of people don’t think about,” she says. “It’s also one of the demographics in which poor prescribing practices can lead to overprescribing and a surplus of pills in the marketplace.”
That surplus can result in addiction in the patient or in family members if unused pills are left in medicine cabinets. AHQA wants to break that cycle. “Our members work with providers to educate them about what appropriate prescribing practices are,” Teitelbaum says. “The guidelines do change, and not all providers can keep up with that.”
AHQA members—Quality Improvement Organizations led by the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, and healthcare quality professionals—also show individual prescribers how their prescriptions compare to their peers. “You may have an outlier provider, who provides far more than their peers,” Teitelbaum says. “If you show that prescriber their prescribing on a graph, it makes an impact. It can lead to behavior change.”
AHQA believes the combination of education and monitoring can reduce negative outcomes for patients and families. “Opioids are always going to be here,” Teitelbaum says. “The goal is to make sure they are only being prescribed when they are needed.”