Geisinger CIO to Congress: This is how we used IT to reduce opioid misuse

John Kravitz, CIO of Danville, Pa.-based Geisinger, testified during a hearing on the national opioid crisis April 12 before the Health Subcommittee of the House Energy and Commerce Committee.

Mr. Kravitz's testimony focused on Geisinger's IT-driven approach to reducing opioid prescriptions across the health system. The strategy, proposed by Geisinger's physician leadership, focused on leveraging EHRs and e-prescribing solutions to limit opioid prescriptions and minimize patient exposure to the drugs.

One of the key programs Geisinger leadership implemented to change physicians' prescribing practices involved creating a provider dashboard linked to the health system's EHR. By analyzing the provider dashboard, Geisinger leadership was able to identify prescription patterns among providers and target "heavy prescribers" with best practices for pain management.

Other components of Geisinger's approach included integrating patient data from an app that measures physical activity and patient-reported pain into EHRs, embedding pharmacists into primary care clinics, and establishing drug take-back programs. Geisinger leadership has rolled out these programs across the health system since August 2017.

Since launching these initiatives, Geisinger has significantly reduced the use of opioids across its patient population, according to Mr. Kravitz. As of February, 74 percent of Geisinger's controlled medications were e-prescribed, which has reduced opioid prescriptions, prescription forgery and total costs of care.

"While I am not a clinician, I am pleased that information technology plays an important role in Geisinger's approach to decreasing the use of opioids," Mr. Kravitz said at the hearing. "The initiatives rolled out by Geisinger are broadly applicable to healthcare systems across the United States, and we encourage others to apply these strategies in their organizations."

He added that although the provider dashboard in use at Geisinger is unique to the health system, he believes other hospital leadership teams can develop similar reports on opioid prescribing through EHRs or clinical order entry systems.

"To succeed, organizations will need support from their physician leadership and a commitment to eliminating all unnecessary opioid prescribing," he said.

To access Mr. Kravitz's testimony, click here.

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