Claire Fiddian-Green is the President & CEO of the Richard M. Fairbanks Foundation.
The opioid epidemic isn’t over yet, as evidenced by the latest data from the CDC, which shows that overdose deaths continue to rise – and opioids are the leading cause of these deaths.
Addressing the epidemic will take a multi-pronged approach, and a key strategy is to focus on preventing opioid misuse. One important step is to provide the latest information to doctors and other health professionals about safe prescribing practices as well as effective, non-opioid pain management alternatives for patients. This is especially important because – despite a recent decline – Indiana still has one of the highest opioid prescribing rates in the country.
While there are new state laws and other regulations in place aimed at decreasing these rates, medical professionals need help learning about prescribing best practices that comply with Indiana laws and are customized by specialty area (e.g., obstetrics and gynecology, orthopedics, oncology).
To help address this need, the Richard M. Fairbanks Foundation awarded a grant to the Indiana State Medical Association to develop a comprehensive safe prescribing continuing medical education (CME) program in partnership with the Indiana Hospital Association, medical specialty groups and other state partners, and to develop on-demand tools – such as podcasts and a mobile app – that will make it easier for health professionals to access the information they need, when they need it.
In addition, to address the urgent need to disseminate opioid prescribing best practices that align with new state laws, the Foundation’s grant will allow the CME program to be delivered for free to Indiana prescribers in 2018.
Tackling the opioid epidemic requires a comprehensive approach that focuses on treatment, harm reduction and prevention. Our hope is that this new CME program will help support Indiana’s prevention efforts by reducing rates of opioid misuse and overdose deaths.