On October 26, 2017, President Donald Trump declared the opioid crisis to be a public health emergency. “Addressing it will require all of our effort, and it will require us to confront the crisis in all of its very real complexity,” said Trump during his announcement. His declaration has set into motion a 90-day period where the federal government will expand the use of telemedicine and allow flexibility in regulation and spending.
As healthcare professionals, pharmacists have a duty beyond dispensing medications to be vigilant about their patients’ health. With the hectic workflow in a pharmacy, it can be challenging to monitor suspicious behavior and potential cases of addiction. Now more than ever, you need to employ your management software and staff to pinpoint potential opiate abuse and intervene before it escalates to a crisis that endangers your pharmacy and your patients.
Look Out for Your Patients
Keeping an eye on each patient and successfully managing your pharmacy is an all-consuming job. Here are the areas your software can step in and do the work for you:
- Prompts: Create custom actions within your software that prompt a reaction.
- PMP Submissions: Prescription Monitor Programs help pharmacists like Barry Klein of Klein’s Pharmacy keep an eye on his patients who may be receiving opioids from multiple dispensers. “We created a custom action that prompts our pharmacists when handling opioids. Every time a controlled substance is dispensed, the PMP database must be reviewed for every dispensing. The integration with my software makes it very efficient,” says Barry. Make sure the PMP Gateway has been enabled in your state.
- MTM actions: Create MTM actions for patients who are receiving opioids. For example, a custom MTM action can appear at the point-of-sale to inform the pharmacy employee that the patient is receiving an opiate drug and may need more education on the side effects and risks.
Fortify Your Pharmacy
Whether you are prepping for an audit or adding more security, your management software can assist you:
- Reports: Your software should be able to generate any kind of report your auditor may request during an audit. Or, reports may be used to monitor the effects of certain procedures in the pharmacy. Jordan Ballou uses reports to observe the effects of POS counseling at Tyson Drug. “I’m able to run a report within PioneerRx that shows me how many prescriptions we dispensed that we had counseled on versus those that didn’t receive counseling,” she explains. “We definitely noticed some missed opportunities there.”
- Robots: Devices that integrate with your software can be key players in the opioid epidemic. Robots like the Eyecon can capture photos of the bottle’s contents and tag each pill with a number to ensure the correct amount. Other robots like the RxSafe reduce theft by securely storing and dispensing narcotics.
- EPCS: Electronic Prescriptions for Controlled Substances, or e-scripts, can reduce the risk of dispensing stolen or forged prescriptions for narcotics.
- Permissions: Review and adjust your employees’ Permissions to prevent internal theft and inventory alterations for narcotics and controls.
Trust Your Intuition
One powerful tool in the fight against opiate abuse is a pharmacist’s intuition; if a patient is overusing controlled substances or appears to be “doctor shopping,” or even if a prescriber seems to be writing questionable prescriptions, pharmacists can use their insight to intervene. Be aware of the degree of opioid abuse experienced in your city, and be observant of the activity within your pharmacy. Pharmacists can be one of the keys to reducing opioid abuse, all thanks to their own perspective and the tools readily available to them within their management software.