Low-Cost Imaging Reporting Can Help Lower Unnecessary Opioid Prescriptions

A new report published in the Journal of the American College of Radiology suggests radiologists can help drop unnecessary opioid prescriptions by using a low-cost reporting change.

Healthcare providers on the West Coast have experimented with improving patient care by including pertinent information in their reports. Providers can notate treatment options that do not include pain pills, or opioids, in patient files based on prior cases or experience. For example, patients who visit their provider for lower back pain and show no acute injury (normal wear-and-tear) will have a detailed report written in their file by the radiologist, which will significantly reduce the possibility of physician-prescribed opioids.

Lead author Brian Bresnahan, PhD., from the University of Washington’s Department of Radiology, wrote, “Systematically adding age-based prevalence information on imaging reports would require a low level of resources, including a small amount of personnel time for an IT programmer, a manager, and a radiologist.”

This simple yet effective intervention method has proven effective at decreasing opioid prescriptions. The start-up cost is roughly $5,000, which includes pilot-testing with providers. The costs are made up of small amounts of time from a radiologist (six to 12 hours) and imaging ordering providers (one to 8 hours each). One or two days was all it took to implement and involved a radiology IT specialist, with variability depending on the number of clinics, level of experience in imaging departments, and interconnectivity between sites.

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Written by the digital marketing staff at Creative Programs & Systems: www.cpsmi.com.

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