HCN News & Notes

MMS Chief Urges Enrollment in MassPAT

WALTHAM —With just days to go before the state’s new prescription monitoring program goes online and with reports indicating that prescriber enrollment has been slow, the president of the statewide association of physicians is urging all health care providers who prescribe controlled substances to enroll in the new program, saying it is a critical element in helping to curb the misuse of prescription drugs.

The Massachusetts Prescription Awareness Tool, or MassPAT, the state’s new prescription monitoring program, is scheduled to become operational on August 22, and the state has invested more than $6 million in upgrades to the new system. Reports from the Department of Public Health indicate that fewer than 25{06cf2b9696b159f874511d23dbc893eb1ac83014175ed30550cfff22781411e5} of prescribers have enrolled to date.

James S. Gessner, M.D., president of the Massachusetts Medical Society with more than 25,000 members, said, “physicians have been urging improvements to the monitoring program for some time, and Governor Baker and the Department of Public Health have delivered. Substantial resources have been invested to improve the system, to make it easier for physicians to use and to access more information more quickly. It is now incumbent on physicians and all prescribers to participate.”

Every prescriber must create a new account for the new system, and the Department of Public Health has created tutorials and webinars for prescribers to simplify the registration process.

Massachusetts prescribers seeking to prescribe a Schedule II or III narcotic medication or a benzodiazepine to a patient for the first time must research that patient’s prescribing history in the MassPAT database. Beginning Oct. 15, all prescribers will need to query MassPAT prior to issuing every Schedule II or III narcotic medication.

Features of the new program include allowing prescribers to designate delegates to use the system on their behalf; integration with electronic medical records, and access to data from other states. Currently data from Rhode Island, Connecticut, and New York are accessible, with other states to follow.

Citing the experiences in New York and Tennessee, Gessner said “prescription-monitoring programs have proven to reduce the numbers of patients who were seeing multiple prescribers. It’s the best tool we have to track prescription use.”

The Massachusetts program collects prescription information on Massachusetts Schedule II through V controlled substances dispensed by a prescription. Schedules II through V are prescription drugs with recognized potential for abuse or dependence, such as narcotics, stimulants, and sedatives, and are among those most sought for illicit and non-medical use.

Data from the monitoring program is analyzed to determine prescribing and dispensing trends; provide a patient’s history of prescriptions to prescribers and dispensers; present educational information to health care providers and the public; and to provide case information to regulatory and law enforcement agencies concerning drug distribution and diversion.

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