Biometric program hopes to reduce prescription drug abuse

July 31, 2012 - 

Holzer Health Systems has teamed up with biometrics company CrossChx to monitor prescription painkiller abuse.

With a $1.5 million patient tracking system, Holzer and CrossChx will provide US$900,000 and the state will provide US$500,000.

The project will develop a system to allow prescribers of dangerous drugs to use biometric
authentication to compare health records from multiple sources to confirm eligibility of a patient to
receive a prescription for medication. With a combination of fingerprint and photo identification, a prescriber will then be able to receive real-time patient information. At the end of the pilot, a closing report will be submitted that evaluates the effectiveness of the project.

Southern and southeastern Ohio has been challenged by the state’s prescription painkiller addiction epidemic. Records from Ohio Department of Alcohol and Drug Addiction Services showed that the total number of doses prescribed could average 67 opiate painkiller doses for every man, woman and child. Mortality records also showed that four Ohio residents die each day from overdose, with opiates accounting for two-thirds of those deaths. And, the largest growing population in terms of prescription drug addiction and moving into heroin addiction are the youth and young adults.

According to Brent Saunders, Holzer board chairman, with the new system, the confidential information will help flag addicts who try every means, including doctor shopping, just to acquire prescription drugs for non-medical use.

“We are excited about the potential of this new technology to help reduce prescription drug abuse, doctor shopping and sales of medications for the purposes of abuse,” said Orman Hall, director of the Ohio Department of Alcohol and Drug Addiction Services. “The illegal use of legal drugs in Ohio is leading to drug addiction and unnecessary deaths from overdose. The state’s involvement in this project reinforces Governor Kasich’s commitment to winning the war against opiate abuse.”

Other benefits of the biometrics project will be used to study patients’ behaviors, patterns and demographics to help analyze drug diversion and fraud attempts. This will aid law enforcement efforts across the region.

Do you think the use of biometrics system in accessing prescription drugs will help curb drug abuse?

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About T'ash Spenser

T’ash Spencer writes full time for She has 15 years experience in the field of regional planning and earned her Master’s of Science in Regional Development Planning and Management from the University of Dortmund, Germany. Follow her @tashspencer1.