The opioid epidemic has reached crisis proportions in New York State and the country, with overdose deaths currently exceeding traffic deaths. Inadvertently, physicians themselves may be contributing to the problem by prescribing doses and durations that exceed the amount required to control pain. Receiving a prescription with long-acting opioids increases the likelihood of long-term dependency, as well as the risk of opioid-related overdose death. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), for most opioid patients, an initial prescription should not exceed a 3-day duration of the minimally-effective dose.

But how do we change physician prescribing behavior for opioids? On September 17, 2019, NYSHealth hosted a conversation with Jessica S. Ancker, M.P.H., Ph.D., Associate Professor of Healthcare Policy and Research at Weill Cornell Medicine, to discuss how her team applied behavioral “nudging” in Weill Cornell’s electronic health records prescription interface. Ms. Ancker discussed the power of the default option; the role that health informatics play in physician workflow and prescribing patterns; and the results of the NYSHealth-funded pilot within Weill Cornell’s system of hospitals and federally qualified health centers.

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