INDIANAPOLIS - A new report from the American Medical Association suggests Indiana's efforts in the fight against opioids are paying off. The AMA Opioid Task Force 2019 Progress Report shows opioid prescriptions in Indiana have decreased 35.1 percent over the past five years, which is 2 percent higher than the national average. The Indiana Hospital Association and the Indiana State Medical Association say the state's effort to encourage and promote the responsible prescription of opioids among physicians is a key driver of the results.

In an interview with Inside INdiana Business, IHA President Brian Tabor says the report can be attributed to a combination of factors.

"I think it's a combination of public education and awareness of the appropriateness of opioid prescriptions. Sometimes they're needed and they're there for chronic pain but there are alternatives and so education is a part," said Tabor. "But beyond education, there's public policy and we've seen some important laws and regulations put into place through the work of the Indiana General Assembly and Governor Holcomb's leadership. Then there's the professional medical groups and individual practitioners and their work in coming together, collaborating, sharing best practices."

The AMA's report also shows a 651 percent increase nationwide in the number of queries made to state prescription drug monitoring programs by healthcare professionals since 2014. Last year, the Indiana General Assembly approved funding to integrate the state's PDMP, known as INSPECT, into the electronic medical records systems of health facilities in the state.

"What Indiana has done that has really helped to drive the use of those monitoring databases is to help integrate the prescription drug monitoring databases into the work flow of physicians to make it really much easier to look at the information that is in our database along with the patient's entire medical history," said Tabor. "There was a time where INSPECT had to be accessed through a different terminal separately from the main electronic medical records system and so Indiana has taken some really important steps to help get those different systems integrated."

Tabor says decreasing inappropriate prescribing is just one aspect of the fight against the opioid epidemic, but there are many others the state can focus on such as making naloxone more available and educating the public, especially employers, about abuse and the steps that can be taken toward treatment.

You can connect to the full Opioid Task Force 2019 Progress Report by clicking here.