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A pilot program to expand and improve access to prescription drug records for physicians, pharmacists and emergency departments is being launched in Ohio and Indiana, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced. The program aims to reduce prescription drug abuse.

The program, launched by the HHS Health IT Division, is designed to make it easier for physicians to use prescription drug monitoring databases, Reuters reports. While 49 states have authorized the programs, many doctors avoid using them because they are difficult to navigate, the article notes. Doctors also say the data is often old by the time it becomes available in the system, making it less useful when they are deciding whether to write a prescription. The new system will provide real-time information.

Government data will be merged with the electronic health records systems used in doctors’ offices and pharmacies, according to Marty Allain, a senior director at the Indiana Board of Pharmacy, who worked with HHS to design the pilot program.

In Indiana, emergency department staff will be encouraged to access patients’ prescription histories through a database already used in hospitals in the state. The Ohio project will test a new drug risk indicator in the electronic health record, and will determine how that affects doctors’ decisionmaking.

“Technology plays a critical role in our comprehensive efforts to address our nation’s prescription drug abuse epidemic,” Gil Kerlikowske, Director of National Drug Control Policy, said in a news release. “Together with education, proper disposal practices, and enforcement, improving existing prescription monitoring programs is a priority for this administration.”


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