CMS recommends EHR integration of PDMP data to improve opioid prescribing and reduce provider burden

In a letter addressed to State Medicaid Directors, the Acting Director of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), Tim Hill, urges the use of prescription monitoring tools to help combat the opioid crisis. The letter emphasizes “the importance of enhancing prescription drug monitoring programs (PDMPs) to help improve appropriate and safer prescribing of prescription opioid medications, and integrating connections to PDMP data into EHRs to limit provider burden and improve interstate Health Information Exchange (HIE).”

A PDMP is “an electronic database that tracks controlled substance prescriptions. PDMPs can help identify patients who may be misusing prescription opioids or other prescription drugs and who may be at risk for overdose.” Through the use of PDMPs, independent physicians can monitor and better control opioid prescriptions, “reducing the number of people who misuse, abuse, or overdose from them, while making sure patients have access to safe, effective pain management.”

Hill describes several funding options for implementing these tools as well. He explains that “States may claim the 90 percent HITECH match for costs related to the design, development, and implementation of PDMPs and connections to PDMPs so long as the cost controls described in SMD 16-003 are met and so long as these costs help Eligible Providers meet Meaningful Use measures focused on public health reporting and the exchange of public health data described in 42 CFR 495.22 and 495.24.”

Another option for PDMP funding is through Medicaid Management Information System (MMIS) matching funds, which Hill says “may be a more appropriate source of federal funding for costs related to developing a PDMP in some cases, and states should not claim 90 percent HITECH match for costs that could otherwise be matched with MMIS matching funds.”

Given the magnitude of the opioid crisis, including the fact that it was recently declared a nationwide public health emergency, CMS is encouraging states “to minimize provider burden by integrating PDMP data into EHRs, as may be practicable, and to consider complementing PDMPs with provider onboarding and training.”