- Southwestern Vermont Healthcare -
Tackling the Opioid Measure Intelligently
Tackling CMS’s new opioid measure—and the greater opioid crisis—for your healthcare system.
Put on your investigator’s hat and start asking questions.
A solid baseline of quantitative and qualitative prescriber data to build and improve upon.
Like just about every health care system in America, Southwestern Vermont Healthcare has witnessed firsthand the effects of our nation’s opioid crisis—and they have decided to use every tool in their power to make a difference.
“When CMS announced the opioid measure, I realized that participating in the voluntary reporting could be another way for us to make sure that we are doing the best that we can as a healthcare system to address the disease,” says Marie Johnson, the quality systems and analytics manager for Southwestern Vermont. “It could provide insight on improvements that may be beneficial for our inpatient population, to complement all the work our ED has already done to address this crisis.”
Put Your Data Under a Magnifying Glass
So, Marie did what all quality people do. She dug into the data and started building something meaningful.
“After I finished setting up the opioid measure in Medisolv and our data from the prior year became available, I decided to review all of the cases,” she explains. “I exported all the numerator cases to Excel to create a list for review. Then I used data from our EHR to add more fields to that list, specifically the patient’s primary diagnosis, the discharge disposition, which drugs hit, and what action was taken on those prescriptions.”
Interview Your Providers & Pharmacy Staff
Marie then took her findings straight to the source: the providers and pharmacy personnel. Her goal was twofold: to understand their prescriber practices inside and out, and to make sure they understood the measure and their impact on it.
“The most important part of the process is listening to providers about their concerns because then you can find opportunities for improvement and education,” Marie says. “For example, I have learned that many providers do not feel it is appropriate for them to change a patient’s home medications, because those are drugs that were given by the patient’s PCP or specialists, and they do not want to change other providers’ regimens of care.”
A simple five-minute conversation with a pharmacy informatics staff member yielded equally valuable insights.
“They explained to me that the pharmacy had built a pop-up in the provider ordering screens for when a high-dose narcotic is prescribed,” she says. “So, when a high-dose narcotic is prescribed, the system will remind the provider to order naloxone as well. This creates a numerator case in the measure appropriately, as these are safe prescribing practice recommendations put forth by CMS.”
Always Continue to Learn
Marie continues to follow this collaborative learning process as new cases hit and her Excel spreadsheet grows. Admittedly, it’s a lot of boots-on-the-ground work, but she believes the effort is worth it.
“I want to make sure that the numbers we are required to report are reflective of our care and not a result of us failing to dive into the process and educate ourselves ahead of time,” she explains. “And, of course, if we can use tools like this measure to understand our prescribing practices, then we will ultimately make our community stronger. That’s what it’s all about.”
Having our Medisolv Quality Advisors is so helpful in understanding what we are doing. We did not have that level of support with our other vendors. You had to figure things out for yourself.
With Medisolv, I never hesitate to reach out to them. They are always extremely responsive.
Medisolv takes those all-too-confusing CMS rules and makes it clear what we have to report, how we have to report it, and when we have to report it.
I really love that, with Medisolv, you got everything in one platform. Before, we were doing our eCQM reporting on one platform, and our chart abstracting in another.
Medisolv provides us with new measures—beyond opioid and hybrid—that were not available with our existing software.
Medisolv helps our department understand, as a team, what we are required to submit and when.
Quality reporting is an inherently confusing process, and there are so many things to keep track of. Medisolv webinars and tools provide everything to us.
I cannot tell you how many times my director and IT staff have said how much they love Medisolv. Everyone is very happy with the tools as well as the support team.
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