Preventing Prescription Opioid Misuse During Transitions of Care

AAOA recently participated in a town hall hosted by The National Transitions of Care Coalition (NTOCC) to discuss prescription opioid abuse and share resources. Joining AAOA were our partners the Healthcare Distribution Alliance (HDA), National Community Pharmacists Association (NCPA) and the PA Foundation.

Throughout the roundtable, participants spoke to the ongoing prevalence of the opioid epidemic and how AAOA’s prior and ongoing work can aid in the prevention of prescription opioid misuse throughout future transitions of care.

NTOCC’s Executive Director Cheri Lattimer kicked off the event, explaining that the best strategies for preventing prescription opioid abuse during transitions of care are those that account for patients experiencing both acute and chronic pain. “We are really proud to work with AAOA and all of our partners in this,” said Cheri.

John Parker, SVP at HDA, AAOA’s founding partner, provided more insight on some of the consumer resources the coalition created, spotlighting those developed for specific audiences such as women and Hispanic Americans. “Communication and sharing quality information to a broader population is really critically important and we feel like with AAOA we created that hub from which information can be shared.”

Hannah Fish, Director of Strategic Partnerships at NCPA, went on to emphasize the pharmacist perspective, explaining, “Pharmacists act as a central hub for patients when it comes to medication use.” Describing NCPA’s work even further, Hannah noted: “These pharmacies that we represent are in some of the most socially vulnerable areas impacting rural and underserved populations.”

In the past, AAOA has collaborated with NCPA to develop a Pharmacy Toolkit aimed at helping pharmacists engage in conversations with their patients and healthcare provider colleagues about prescription opioids.

To conclude the town hall, the PA Foundation’s Executive Director Lynette Sappe-Watkins spoke to the role of physician assistants (PAs) in preventing opioid misuse and abuse across patient transitions of care. She emphasized that PAs are a fairly young and fast-growing profession, with roughly 10,000 PAs graduating each year.

“It’s very important to inspire PA students to be thinking about these conversations with patients before they go into their rotation year,” explained Lynette. AAOA and the PA Foundation have worked together in the past to develop the Pledge to Pause. This initiative seeks to engage PA students by asking them to commit to discuss the rights, risks and responsibilities of opioid use with patients before prescribing the drug.

As the opioid epidemic continues, it remains important to hold these key conversations and brainstorm new strategies for preventing prescription opioid abuse.

For help in building trust with patients and tips on how to promote education about safe prescription opioid use within all patient populations, visit AAOA’s website.