Ensuring good opioid prescribing practices for patients managing chronic pain is an issue for many health care providers. Virginia Mason Memorial (VMM) in Yakima has established targets, policies and tools to assess and influence the appropriate use of opioids and other controlled substances.
One of the major tools was the development of a web-based chronic opioid therapy (COT) registry for primary care clinic providers. Data from the electronic medical records system, multiple approaches to reporting and empowered medical assistants help to ensure good care for these patients. This approach encompasses all VMM primary care clinic patients.
This multi-faceted approach is already showing results. Individual clinics and providers are being given the data to improve, and providers are engaging with their patients about opioid use. Anecdotally, many patients have reduced dosages or have stopped taking opioid medications. With the electronic record including multiple specialties, the standards are also readily available to specialty providers and their patients. (Mary Kay Clunies-Ross)