Fighting Back Against Opioid Misuse: A Hospital and Community-Based Approach

Frankfort, Indiana – population 15,900 is the seat of Clinton County – population 32,000. This family friendly rural county relies on its local hospital, healthcare providers, and its significant manufacturing and industrial employers. It also ranked 3rd highest in the state for Emergency Department (ED) visits related to non-fatal overdoses and its ED visit rate for overdoses was more than double the state average.

Through a Special Innovation Project (SIP), awarded from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), atom Alliance is working collaboratively with multiple partners and stakeholders and with area physicians, nurse practitioners and dentists in Clinton County, Indiana to decrease opioid use and prescribing. For example, atom Alliance worked with Healthy Communities of Clinton County and the Indiana University Health Frankfort Hospital to educate prescribing physicians and their patients about opioid misuse and developed a communications campaign to raise awareness for how to safely use, store and dispose of pain medications. The campaign included billboards, social media promotion and an educational website.

In 2014, Indiana’s opioid prescribing rate for Medicare beneficiaries ranked 14th highest in the U.S., and 15% of all drugs prescribed were opioids. Clinton County, Indiana’s average rate of non-fatal emergency department visits due to overdose was 79 per 100,000 – that’s two times higher than the state rate.

In the first year of the project, 723 fewer opioid prescriptions were written by emergency department physicians. As of January, 2019, an 83.2% reduction in prescribing of opioids in the ED has been achieved for this Indiana community. This greatly reduces the number of opioid tablets available for misuse or diversion. 87% of our recruited prescribers have implemented at least one intervention.

We created an educational website, www.BeOpioidAware.org, to help patients understand what is and what is not an opioid and to teach proper identification, storage, and disposal of medications. We promoted the website using targeted social media ads and with billboards placed throughout the county’s high traffic areas. The website has received tens of thousands of visits and remains online as a resource to raise awareness around these medications and pain management.

For more information on this project, contact Cheryl Riddell at criddell@qsource.org.