By Doug Brockway
January 29, 2015
A key reason that Prescription Monitoring Programs (PMPs) are inadequate to the task of prevention of opiate abuse is a matter of consistent, enthusiastic participation and use. People will flock to technology based products or services with superior user experiences. The Apple suite is a commonly cited example that takes advantage of what is known as “design thinking.” In contrast, PMPs are user-experience clunkers, designed for data analysis, not for quick, easy, universal use in an active medical office.
When considering prescribing prescription pain killers PMPs oblige doctors and pharmacists to manually examine a data base. According to recent testimony from the Massachusetts Medical Society (MMS) each lookup takes 3 to 7 minutes. This doesn’t sound like much unless you’re in the middle of a busy day at a medical practice or in an emergency room or any one of a number of situations where speed is important.
Instead they swipe a card (or use a mobile service like Apple Pay) and all that is done in seconds by an independent, objective, consistent third party. If on-average each retail purchase was 5 minutes longer than it is today sellers and buyers would be unhappy, grumpy, and un-cooperative with the process and each other.
With many uses of pain killers the 5 minute investment in the PMP is easily seen as too burdensome. The hospice setting is one. So are small amount prescriptions, especially for patients well known to the physician. Emergency care, many inpatient settings so-called “immediate treatment” also might fall in this category. Policy makers and the medical community spend much time discussing how to manage the efficiency of the process for such situations.