Guest post by Miranda Rochol, vice president of product and strategy at Healthcare Data Solutions.
The recent DEA schedule change of hydrocodone prescription drugs has critical implications for prescribers, pharmacies and patients – not only for patients who are taking hydrocodone medications for chronic pain, but also for patients who experience new injuries that require short-term pain treatment.
The following scenario depicts how the hydrocodone schedule change can impact all of these stakeholders:
A patient goes to see her primary care physician because she twisted her knee in an exercise class and can barely walk. During the examination, the physician determines that the patient has torn her ACL and will need a referral to an orthopedic surgeon for further examination and treatment. In the meantime, however, the physician is going to prescribe the patient Vicodin, a common pain medication, which has recently been reclassified as a Class II drug under the DEA’s schedule change.
Sounds like a pretty common story, right? But as simple as this scenario sounds, there are multiple challenges that can arise when physicians don’t have the right tools to do their jobs efficiently.
The first potential problem has to do with the referral. The method a physician uses to refer patients to specialists matters – a lot. Paper-based referrals can cause a number of problems, from insufficient information provided to specialists, to lack of timely feedback to referring physicians, to inefficient referral tracking.
Electronic referral management through the use of electronic health records (EHR) solves potential issues with timeliness and tracking. But whom a physician selects to refer a patient to is also critical. In today’s value-based model of healthcare, careful selection and management of physician referrals is integral to improving patient outcomes and reducing healthcare costs. And one of the best ways to maximize physician referrals is to use an accurate physician directory, or database, that contains vital information like location, ZIP code detail, affiliations, areas of specialty, and organizational capabilities.