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The federal government has launched two pilot programs designed to make prescription drug monitoring programs (PDMPs) easier for doctors to use, American Medical News reports.

The Health and Human Services Department’s Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) hopes the programs will increase the number of physicians who use the databases. The initiative is part of a larger effort to decrease the problem of prescription drug abuse.

In 49 states, prescription drug monitoring programs have been approved, and 43 have a system that is currently operating, the article notes. Currently, most states do not require doctors to use the databases. Starting in 2013, at least five states will require doctors to check the database each time they prescribe a controlled substance, or if the patient meets certain criteria, such as suspected drug abuse.

Many doctors say using the database disrupts their workflow. Most of the databases are not integrated with patients’ electronic health records, and require a separate, secure log-in.

The ONC pilot programs, which are being conducted in Indiana and Ohio, allow physicians to have one access point for all of their patients’ information. They will not need to log into a separate system. ONC will compare the number of times doctors access the databases before and after the pilot programs begin.

In a news release issued when the programs were announced this summer, Gil Kerlikowske, Director of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy, said, “We hope these innovative pilots will help usher in an era of ‘PDMPs 2.0’ across the nation to improve real time data sharing among, increase interoperability of data among states, and expand the number of people using these important tools.”

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