Reducing Drug Diversion with Forward-Thinking Technology


According to the CDC, in 2015, over 63% of drug overdoses resulting in death involved an opioid. As the opioid crisis grows, medical technology companies are developing digital solutions for reducing drug diversion and theft. Innovations in prescription management can prevent drug diversion and inappropriate access to opioids.

Information Technology Systems and Software

Information technology (IT) systems and software can provide access to information about different drugs and use information related to the patient. When these IT systems are put in place, nurses and physicians can more readily prescribe the correct medication for the patient because they are given up-front information about the patient’s allergies, a drug recall warning, or negative drug interactions. All of this information can reduce waste and reduce excuses for missing drugs.

Pharmacy Drug Dispensing Systems and Bar-Coded Medication Administration

Automated dispensing cabinets and drug-dispensing robots reduce dispensing errors and drug waste by dispensing and packaging medications using bar codes. When drug dispensing devices are used, dispensing errors reduce by over 30% and the potential for drug diversion reduces by over 60%.

Bar-coded medication administration (BCMA) systems use patient identification bracelets scanned by the nurse who is administering medication at the bedside. These identification bracelets will alert the nurse when there is a mismatch of patient identity or medication name or dose. BCMA tracks the prescription that the patient is scheduled to receive, which can reduce drug diversion and medication administration errors.

Prescription Monitoring Programs

Healthcare systems can use prescription monitoring programs to collect data on the number of physicians who prescribe opioids for patients and where the pharmacies are where opioids are dispensed for those patients. Prescription monitoring programs are only available on a state-by-state basis. While prescription monitoring programs are not available in every state, but they are in various stages of implementation nearly nationwide. These prescription monitoring programs are already suggesting a reduction in abuse events even with limited data on the programs. Prescription monitoring programs can assist with both drug diversion reduction as well as drug abuse by patients.