Twin Cities hospital to rollout program to make it easier to spot doctor shopping

Updated: October 02, 2019 07:27 PM

A Twin Cities hospital is preparing to rollout a major update to its computer system to help doctors spot patients who may be shopping around for addictive narcotics.

North Memorial Hospital is updating its computer system to integrate the state’s Prescription Monitoring Program, known as the PMP, into the patient’s electronic health record.


“Anytime you can make the right thing easier to do, that's the path forward,” said Dr. Jeff Vespa, Medical Director for Quality at North Memorial. “The goal of all this work is to have a positive impact on addiction related to opioids and death.”

North Memorial is the first hospital system in the Twin Cities to make it so doctors just need to glance at a patient’s chart to see their prescription history.

Over the years, prescribers routinely griped about the old system, arguing that it was too cumbersome and time-consuming.

“The new process will be literally seconds,” Dr. Vespa said.

The new approach may come in handy under a new state law that requires most prescribers use the PMP by 2021. Previously, medical professionals who prescribe narcotics were only required to have an active account.

Despite that mandate, in the spring of 2018, 5 INVESTIGATES found more than 5,000 prescribers were in violation of the law by failing to sign up for an account.

State records show usage has since grown. Data from the pharmacy board shows that usage of the PMP in August was up more than 80 percent over last year.

North Memorial plans to roll out this new computer system in November. 

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Ryan Raiche

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