HHS Using Data Science and Technology to Pinpoint Over-Prescribing Trends September 4th, 2018 The Recovery Village at Palmer Lake
Blog & News HHS Using Data Science and Technology to Pinpoint Over-Prescribing Trends

HHS Using Data Science and Technology to Pinpoint Over-Prescribing Trends

A man reads the label on a prescription pill bottle.

When patients are treated for chronic pain, physicians often prescribe opioids to help them deal with their discomfort. Sadly, the misuse of these drugs is killing people in epidemic numbers, and the US Department of Health and Human Services is taking action to do something about it.

Fraud, over-prescription, doctor shopping and illegal distribution of opioids have all become huge problems within the Medicare and Medicaid sphere. Some physicians have already been criminally charged and incarcerated as a result of nefarious activity in this regard, but it is already too late for many people who have lost their lives to opioid overdose.

The good news is that there is new science on the horizon that is helping combat the issue of opioid misuse.

New Science Helping in the Fight Against Opioid Use and Misuse

Analysts with the Health and Human Services Department’s office have long been scouring for illegal activity among health care providers, but only recently has the organization made major changes in how it uses data to identify acts of fraud, waste and abuse in Medicare and Medicaid. Through the use of cutting-edge analytics tools, these experts are able to find emerging patterns in a host of information that has been stored.

Investigators regularly keep tabs on the Integrated Data Repository of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, which has detailed information on physicians and patient claims, among others, in an effort to identify any possible illegal activity.

More specifically, the data has been shown to be quite useful in analyzing trends in doctor shopping, as well as the total prescription strength of opioids for different patients. When a health care provider seems to be prescribing an unusually high dosage for individual patients, this can flag investigators to look into the situation further.

A doctor and patient sit together at a table discussing prescription medicine.

With the help of the HHS and the technology it has implemented, illegal activity surrounding the prescription of opioids can be more easily identified, which can help reduce the prevalence of opioid addiction and overdose.

To make the job of an investigator more efficient and effective, new technologies are being implemented. Investigative tools are now stored in a central cloud-based analytics platform that gives investigators a more sophisticated means of finding providers with bad intentions. The platform also provides analysts with several visualization tools, which are integral in helping to make heads or tails of voluminous data.

Such tools and technology can help to support the fight against opioid misuse.

Physicians are becoming increasingly aware of the dangers of opioid use and how easy it is for patients to become addicted to them, but many doctors still prescribe far too many opioids to patients. Old prescribing habits may die hard, but those who are caught in a downward spiral of addiction to opioids may feel the results. The HHS’s efforts in spotting trends in over-prescribing among physicians are helping to reduce this practice, which will help to lower the odds of opioid misuse and addiction among patients across the country.

Getting Help for Opioid Addiction in Rehab

Given the overwhelming number of people who have overdosed on opioids and continue to die from this dangerous addiction, getting help for substance use disorder right away is of paramount importance. If you or any of your loved ones are suffering from an opioid addiction, the time to get help is now.

At a reputable rehab facility, you can get the support and treatment needed to overcome this addiction. In a medically supervised environment, you will be able to take advantage of safe detoxing, followed by an integrated Colorado addiction treatment program that will help you physically and psychologically heal from your addiction and give you the tools needed to help you rebuild your life.

To speak to someone about treatment for opioid addiction, contact us today!

Medical Disclaimer: The Recovery Village aims to improve the quality of life for people struggling with a substance use or mental health disorder with fact-based content about the nature of behavioral health conditions, treatment options and their related outcomes. We publish material that is researched, cited, edited and reviewed by licensed medical professionals. The information we provide is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare provider.