A recent article on the Sober Living by the Sea Blog offered a glimpse into the future of prescription drug abuse detection and management.
According to the write-up, a physician living in the Dayton Ohio area has created a new type of software that is able to “score” a patient’s risk of becoming abusive with prescription drugs. The physician, Dr. Jim Huizenga, has labeled the new software NarxCheck. This newly devised software, according to the article, will be used in a pilot study designed to look at prescription drug practices.
It appears that the software is able to use information from the electronic health records of the patient to forewarn of the potential for possible prescription drug abuse. The way the system is designed it will actually track the number of prescriptions an individual receives, as well as the dosages of those prescriptions. In addition, NarxCheck will also look at and determine the number of doctors and individual has seen for a particular prescription, and track the number of pharmacies they have used.
The NarxCheck is then able to calculate the risk factor an individual may have with regard to abusing or perhaps diverting prescription drugs. According to Dr. Jim Huizenga the software is already being utilized in 10 emergency rooms in the region. The number of facilities using the system is expected to grow and more than double in the near-term. Additionally, according to the article, this new software has already helped reduce the number of drug seekers who visit the regions medical centers.
This type of technology could not have come at a better time, as the region is currently experiencing prescription drug abuse of epidemic proportions. Dr. Jim Huizenga has made it clear that the software that he has devised is not intended to label a patient a drug addict, but rather it is intended to alert a doctor to the potential for possible prescription drug abuse. Certainly, there will be arguments on both sides of the privacy issue, and whether patients should be subjected to a potential type of profiling. However, at the end of the day, lives could be saved.