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HIMSS session includes update on MHS Opioid Registry

Chris Nichols, Defense Health Agency program manager for Enterprise Intelligence and Data Solutions, under the DHA office of the deputy assistant director for Information Operations, talks about utilizing data and pinpointing risks in order to fix the opioid epidemic at the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society annual conference and exhibition in Las Vegas, Nevada. (MHS photo) Chris Nichols, Defense Health Agency program manager for Enterprise Intelligence and Data Solutions, under the DHA office of the deputy assistant director for Information Operations, talks about utilizing data and pinpointing risks in order to fix the opioid epidemic at the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society annual conference and exhibition in Las Vegas, Nevada. (MHS photo)

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Las Vegas — Continued efforts to combat opioid misuse through the MHS Opioid Registry was the topic of a session on Thursday, March 8, during the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS) annual conference and exhibition in Las Vegas.

Chris Nichols, Defense Health Agency program manager for Enterprise Intelligence and Data Solutions, under the DHA office of the deputy assistant director for Information Operations, spoke to the gathering.

“Admiral Bono is always driving us towards being a learning health system, and building out the MHS Opioid registry is the right thing to do,” said Nichols.

Utilizing cutting-edge technology for data management and reporting, the MHS Opioid Registry identifies patients who have been prescribed opioids. Through the patient lookup capability, clinical pharmacy professionals, physicians, and any other authorized providers can proactively monitor and manage patients and intervene as appropriate.

The MHS Opioid Registry has led to tangible results through proactive intervention according to Nichols. “We’ve had a least two [people] that I’m aware of – a patient and a dependent – come back and say ‘You saved my life. You saved my wife’s life.’ Thank you for giving me that Narcan, thank you for giving me a way to take care of my wife [with the Narcan].’”

The MHS Opioid Registry was developed in less than a year and beta tested at select sites in 2016.  It was launched in December 2016 and released to all sites in 2017.  The MHS Opioid Registry and its reporting capability has been used at more than 130 DoD sites by over 1,100 distinct users, based on usage statistics from the last 30 days.

Since it was rolled out in July, the patient lookup tool has been used at the point of care to assess opioid-induced respiratory depression risk in over 5,000 patients taking opioids.  Combined usage for MHS Population Health Portal registries is that 3,726 unique users in the MHS accessed hosted registries a total of 435,040 times over the most recent 30-day period.

Data in the MHS Opioid Registry includes more than 200 variables including demographics, medications, morphine equivalence daily dose, results of urine drug testing, and opioid risk factors. In the future, MHS Opioid Registry users will also be able to evaluate and track alternative non-opioid therapies for pain management.

Also, the MHS Opioid Registry will incorporate medication and risk factor data as MHS GENESIS data becomes available. Other future benefits include enabling early detection of opioid misuse, and proactive management and detection of those who may be at risk of substance abuse or suicide, Nichols said.

A registry accessible by both DoD and VA providers and staff is currently under development, Nichols said. Preliminary requirements would focus on the subset of the population separating from the DoD and transitioning to the VA. Among the benefits are reducing errors by providing a shared view of clinical, lab, and medication reconciliation information.

Opioids are commonly prescribed to treat chronic pain, which affects about 20 to 30 percent of the U.S. population, Nichols said. But while opioid use has increased, the overall amount of pain Americans report hasn’t changed, he added.

Almost half of all Americans take prescription painkillers, tranquilizers, stimulants, or sedatives, according to the results of a federal survey discussed during the presentation. This prevalence may explain why millions of Americans misuse and abuse prescription drugs, Nichols said.

More than 2.4 million Americans have a severe opioid-use disorder involving dependence on pain medications, heroin, or both. In the military, opioid use disorder can negatively affect performance, military readiness, and the overall mission.

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