February 18, 2020 | STAT

Without oversight, electronic prescribing can harm patients

By Liisa Laine and Jason Doctor

"The use of electronic health record systems in doctors’ offices and hospitals has hit a major speed bump, and rightly so, with the federal government winning a $145 million civil and criminal settlement against Practice Fusion, a San Francisco-based electronic health record company. The company admitted to taking payments from a major drug company in exchange for dropdown menus that persuaded doctors to prescribe opioid medications to their patients.

Practice Fusion estimated internally that the drug company — reported by Reuters and STAT to be Purdue Pharma — could gain nearly 3,000 new customers and increase opioid sales to the tune of $11.3 million by implementing the change.

The power of the alert was greater than anticipated. Between 2016 and 2017, more than 700,000 unique “pain care plans” were started because of the alert, and 20% to 33% of them involved opioids. More than 140,000 patients were prescribed opioids following an alert."

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