Sharing records aids opioid fight

Kokomo Tribune

As we’ve written before, every county in the state should be required to report opioid overdose deaths. Sharing data in a streamlined way should be the first order of business. This sort of information will be essential to effectively fighting the opioid epidemic sweeping the nation.

Luckily, we have a governor in Eric Holcomb who understands the scope of this problem. Holcomb sees prevention, treatment and enforcement as the key approaches. And, Indiana University has joined the battle, as well.

“Indiana University committed to invest $50 million to prevent and reduce drug addictions in the state,” reported CNHI newspapers reported. “Indiana is one of four states where the fatal drug rate has more than quadrupled since 1999. In 2014, more than 1,100 Hoosiers died from drug overdoses. The ‘Responding to the Addictions Crisis’ effort was announced with Gov. Holcomb and IU Health President Dennis Murphy. (IU President Michael A.) McRobbie said that $30 million would be distributed within the next six months in areas including ways to address the shortage of addictions professionals, compile county-specific data and expand IU’s partnership with workforce development groups to reduce drug addiction.”

The information-sharing portion of this will be indispensable if this effort is to have any chance of success. This endeavor has been aided by a change in records-keeping.

“The number of doctors and healthcare providers who have access to patient records is growing as the state implements a venture to integrate computer systems in Indiana,” CNHI reported. “While the state-funded merger of patient records is seen as a critical point in attacking the opioid epidemic, there is some concern as to what entities will have access to the records. Currently, healthcare providers can read a patient’s electronic records in medical offices. They also can log in to a separate system to track prescriptions for controlled substances through the Indiana Scheduled Prescription Electronic Collection and Tracking (INSPECT) program. But currently, accessing the two systems simultaneously for some offices takes patience.”

This news is a welcome step in the right direction. We’re certainly nowhere near out of the woods yet, but we need to get the facts straight if we have any hope of beating back this scourge.

This was distributed by Hoosier State Press Association. Send comments to awoods@tribtown.com.