A recent feature from Health IT Analytics covers population health strategies that the government and providers are using to address the opioid epidemic.
With the number of opioid-related deaths having quadrupled since 1999, it has become one of the deadliest population health crises in the United States. The leniency with which many physicians prescribe opioids for pain management, coupled with these drugs’ addictive nature, has led to a $25 billion problem for the health care industry.
Dr. David B. Reuben, professor of medicine at the David Geffen School of Medicine at the University of California, Los Angeles, spoke to the challenges facing doctors when prescribing opioids.
Clearly, there are patients for whom opioids are the best treatment for their chronic pain. However, for others, there are likely to be more effective approaches. The challenge is to identify the conditions for which opioid use is most appropriate, the alternatives for those who are unlikely to benefit from opioids, and the best approach to ensuring that every patient’s individual needs are met by a patient-centered health care system.
Among the strategies posed to address the epidemic are more stringent prescription and access guidelines, as well as further implementation of alternative pain management treatments for patients with both acute and chronic pain.