In 2017, the Department of Health & Human Services declared the opioid crisis a public health emergency. While the crisis, on the rise due to continued misuse of prescription painkillers, has impacted each region of the nation to differing extents, Ohio has suffered significantly – ranking as one of the top five states for opioid overdoses.
In an effort to quell the crisis, U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams, MD, attended a meeting with the Northeast Ohio Hospital Opioid Consortium in late May. The Consortium, formed in 2016, is a partnership between Ohio’s health systems dedicated to lessening the opioid epidemic. Psychiatrist David Streem, MD, Section Head, Alcohol and Drug Recovery Center, explains how the Cleveland Clinic’s greatest contribution to the Consortium is its size.
Says Dr. Steem, “[Cleveland Clinic] can often leverage technology and [their] system’s resources to track opiate-seeking patients and get people connected with an addiction treatment program.” But despite its size, Cleveland Clinic recognizes it cannot fight the opioid crisis alone. “Information sharing is a critical part of the solution to the opiate epidemic. The more pathways and procedures that can be created to facilitate information sharing, the more those systems are able to control demand for opiates and their flow into the community.” In this, the purpose and benefits of Cleveland Clinic’s involvement with the Northeast Ohio Hospital Opioid Consortium are understood.
In addition to involvement in the Consortium, Cleveland Clinic has made numerous strides to limit opioid use in the wake of the crisis. One such effort is the election of alternative pain therapy to the annual Top 10 list. Alternative therapy can be achieved through the understanding and use of pharmacogenomics, the study of how genes affect a person’s response to drugs. The tool is in its infancy, but shows promise to create individualized prescriptions for pain medication. Individualized prescriptions with genetic basis would prevent inadequate pain relief and other side effects that often lead to excessive opioid prescription. Notably, “Alternative Therapy for Pain: Fighting the Opioid Crisis” was awarded the #1 spot on the Top 10 Medical Innovations for 2019.
Read more about the NOHOC at ConsultQD and 2019’s #1 Medical Innovation here.