Half of physicians don't use prescription drug monitoring programs

Nearly one in four physicians are unaware of state prescription drug monitoring programs, according to a survey published in Health Affairs.

Of the 72 percent of physicians who are aware of these databases, only 53 percent reported actually using a prescription drug monitoring program.

Through state-specific drug monitoring programs, which have been implemented in 49 states except Missouri, physicians access electronic databases to make clinical decisions regarding the prescription of controlled substances, particularly opioids. They are meant to reduce "doctor shopping," when patients visit multiple providers to double up on prescriptions of controlled substances.

Here are some additional key findings from the report.

  • Of the 72 percent of physicians who were aware of their state's prescription drug monitoring program, 57 percent felt the program "greatly" or "somewhat" helped reduce the abuse and diversion of prescription drugs.
  • Of the 53 percent of physicians who had used the program, 69 percent said it was "very" or "somewhat" easy to access information on the database.
  • Ninety-eight percent of physicians who had used the program felt it was somewhat useful.
  • Physicians reported using the database for eight patients on average in the month before the survey.
  • Seventy-four percent of physicians who had used the program felt it helped reduce overprescribing opioids.

The study suggests that those who have used the program find it at least somewhat helpful. For those who do not use the program or who do not find it useful, researchers identified the following as top barriers:

  • Physicians felt it was too time-consuming to access information from the database.
  • The database was not presented in an intuitive format.
  • Physicians didn't have enough patients who required using the information.

Researchers compiled and analyzed survey responses of 420 physicians for this report.


More articles on integration and physician issues:

Study: Temporary physician staffing on the rise
Physicians with bad news perceived as less compassionate, study finds
Physician group launches directory for self-pay and foreign patients

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