How Geisinger cut opioid prescriptions in half: 3 things to know

Danville, Pa.-based Geisinger reduced opioid prescriptions by more than 50 percent systemwide since 2012, according to a report from WHYY.

Here are three things to know.

1. In 2012, Geisinger leaders learned many patients were not satisfied with the health system's pain control efforts. After assessing EHR data, the leaders found Geisinger physicians often prescribed more opioids than necessary. Previous research has shown relying on too many opioids for pain management can cause a heightened sensitivity to pain, according to the report.

2. Michael Evans, Geisinger's chief pharmacy officer, told WHYY the health system's leaders showed the EHR data to physicians who were overprescribing opioids.

"And, most of the time, the reaction from the prescribers [was], 'Wow, I had no idea I was prescribing like that," Mr. Evans told WHYY.

3. To solve the issue, Geisinger pharmacists and physicians worked together to develop new strategies to treat pain without opioids when appropriate. For example, providers placed a higher emphasis on the importance of physical therapy for lower back pain patients, which proved a more effective treatment than medication. Overall, these efforts resulted in the 50 percent reduction in opioid prescriptions.

To read the full WHYY report, click here.

More articles on opioids: 
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GOP lawmakers consider dropping Medicaid restrictions on opioid addiction therapy: 4 things to know 
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