TRENTON – Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal, the Division of Consumer Affairs, and the New Jersey Coordinator for Addiction Responses and Enforcement Strategies ("NJ CARES") commemorated “Knock Out Opioid Abuse Day” today by announcing that 225 healthcare entities — including the state’s largest health system — have requested access to technology that will help them more quickly and easily identify patients at heightened risk of abuse or overdose, and take action to reduce those risks in advance.
Five weeks ago, Attorney General Grewal announced $1.2 million in federal funding to integrate electronic health records and pharmacy management systems statewide with the New Jersey Prescription Monitoring Program (“NJPMP”) database, allowing doctors and pharmacists automatic, streamlined access to information on patients’ prescription use of controlled dangerous substances (“CDS”), including opioids.
Since then, healthcare entities from across the state have responded with integration requests that would more than double the number of entities currently integrated.
“To defeat the opioid crisis, we need to use every tool in our toolbox, including the latest technology,” said Attorney General Grewal. “We are encouraged by the overwhelming response to our funding offer and heartened by the lives it will undoubtedly save. We will continue to expand and enhance the use of the NJPMP and other data-driven solutions to help us bring an end to the addiction epidemic.”
The NJPMP, operated within the Division of Consumer Affairs, is an electronic database that collects information from pharmacies on the dispensing of CDS — including opioids — to individual patients. It creates a record for the patient so that healthcare providers can understand a patient’s full prescription drug history. The tool aims to improve prescribing practices, target treatment to at-risk patients, and mitigate the risk of potential abuse or fraud by patients who obtain prescriptions from multiple providers.
On August 31, 2020, AG Grewal announced the availability of this new federal funding to pay for software integrations that would enable doctors and pharmacists to instantly access a patient’s opioid prescription history at the moment they provide services. At the time of the announcement, 175 healthcare entities statewide, including pharmacies, hospitals and large health systems, and various other healthcare practices had integrated their digital systems with the NJPMP.
In the weeks since then, 225 additional entities have asked to integrate their electronic record systems with the NJPMP. The largest of those entities is Hackensack Meridian Health, whose healthcare network includes 14 hospitals and more than 200 ambulatory care centers, fitness and wellness centers, home health providers, rehab centers, and skilled nursing centers spanning throughout the state. Hackensack Meridian Health’s system integration was implemented last month.
With the integration of Hackensack Meridian Health, we have reached a milestone goal of incorporating the NJPMP database into the electronic health records of all the major hospitals serving New Jersey,” said Sharon M. Joyce, Director of NJ CARES. “This is an important step in our efforts to build a statewide network of prescribers and pharmacists who embrace the NJPMP as a routine component of patient care and rely on it when making plan of care decisions.”
Prior to this recent round of integration funding, major health systems RWJBarnabas, Health, AtlantiCare, CentraState Healthcare System, and Cooper University Health Care had already integrated with the NJPMP. Additionally, five major chain pharmacies – CVS, Rite Aid, Walgreens, Walmart/Sam’s Club, and Acme – with 723 total locations throughout the state, had integrated with NJPMP database.
Integration eliminates the need for prescribers and pharmacists to navigate to the NJPMP website, log into the database, and enter their patient’s information to see the patient’s prescription drug history. Instead, upon integration with the NJPMP, the Electronic Health Record or Pharmacy Management System automatically initiates an database query when a patient’s electronic records are called up, which returns the patient’s prescription records directly within the clinical workflow.
“The NJPMP is a frontline tool to help prescribers identify and intervene when a patient’s prescription history indicates signs of substance abuse or misuse that can lead to addiction or fatal overdoses,” said Paul R. Rodríguez, Acting Director of the Division of Consumer Affairs. “Facilitating its integration into healthcare workflows means it will be used more often by more practitioners, which bodes well for our efforts to end the opioid crisis in our state.”
New Jersey law requires prescribers and pharmacists to review a patient’s prescription history in certain circumstances prior to prescribing or dispensing CDS. In addition to providing patient prescription records, the NJPMP, through its “NarxCare” platform, provides “clinical alerts” that let practitioners know immediately when a patient’s safety may be at risk. Patients may be at risk when they are obtaining or filling CDS prescriptions from multiple prescribers and pharmacies, receiving daily morphine equivalent levels that exceed limits recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (“CDC”), being prescribed opioid and benzodiazepine medications simultaneously, or have been receiving opioid medications for more than 90 consecutive days.
The NJPMP now contains records of more than 112 million prescriptions dispensed in New Jersey. Each record in the database contains over one hundred unique data elements including, but not limited to, the names and addresses of the patient, prescriber, and pharmacy; drug dispensing date; type, days’ supply, and quantity of medication; and method of payment.
New Jersey law requires prescribers to perform a patient query via the NJPMP the first time they prescribe a Schedule II CDS or any opioid for acute or chronic pain; the first time they prescribe a benzodiazepine; and on a quarterly basis during the period of time the patient continues to receive the aforementioned prescription medications. Prescribers and pharmacists must also perform a patient query via the NJPMP any time they believe that a patient may be seeking CDS for any purpose other than the treatment of an existing medical condition.
Eighteen other jurisdictions – Connecticut, Delaware, South Carolina, Rhode Island, Virginia, Minnesota, New York, Massachusetts, West Virginia, New Hampshire, Maine, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Vermont, North Carolina, Washington D.C., Maryland, and Florida – share data with the NJPMP, providing New Jersey practitioners with even greater insight into the prescription histories of their patients.
For more information, visit the Division’s NJPMP website at NJConsumerAffairs.gov/pmp.