NewsOpioid Crisis


Locally created technology designed to combat opioid abuse

Posted at 10:55 AM, Aug 29, 2019
and last updated 2019-08-29 10:55:26-04

CLEVELAND — Many opioid addictions start at a hospital, but are fueled by what happens after patients go home.

University Hospitals just won a $1.2 million grant to develop new software to stem that cycle of opioid addiction.

With a brand new tool at their fingertips, healthcare professionals at University Hospitals are identifying risks early and providing safer pain management options.

"Is this patient going home on an opioid? And if they are, is it appropriate?" said Sam Brown, an expert on the new technology about the criteria when deciding whether or not to prescribe an opioid.

"So asking the question, can their pain be managed by alternative therapies?" Brown said.

The new "Care Continues" program helps create a safety net when patients begin to tackle their own pain management.

The goal of the new technology is to electronically streamline patient care and keep a close eye on addiction risks, not only inside the hospital, but long after patients are discharged.

Patient treatment records are kept electronically, ensuring that the patient's entire care team has access to the most up-to-date information, such as surgical records or a family history of addiction.

Kelley Purcell, Transitional Care Coordinator, showed News 5 a demo of the patient screening process.

"The patient has a history of substance abuse. Once I complete this visit, it will automatically go to a social worker," Purcell said. "With the technology, they will automatically get this on their phone."

If a physician prescribes an opioid, they are also required to inform the patient of available addiction resources.

Additionally, healthcare providers are trained to identify red flags potentially related to a history of substance abuse.

"Patients asking for pain medications possibly sooner than they’re due for it," Purcell said. "They’re at risk to possibly go home and take those pain medications more than prescribed."

Since the technology was implemented, more than 55,000 University Hospitals patients have been screened with the new technology.