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Attacking the Opioid Crisis Head On with Health IT

Since 1999, deaths from prescription pain medications in the US have quadrupled, and right now, 44 people die from prescription opioid overdose each day. The Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology is working with public and private partners to address this crisis.  This page provides links to a variety of health IT resources available to address prescription drug misuse, abuse, and diversion.

Each day 44 people die from a prescription painkiller overdose.


Enough opioids were prescribed in the U.S. to give each adult their own bottle of pills.

Controlled substances account for 13% of prescriptions.

Video: President Obama discusses drug abuse epidemic in Charleston WV

Using Health IT to Combat the Opioid Crisis

Learn more about how health IT can aid decision making to improve care.

Learn more about trends in adoption and use of EPCS by provider type and geographic region.

Learn more about ONC’s efforts to monitor prescribing and dispensing of controlled substances and how this information is made available at the point of care. 

Federal Response to Opioid Overdose and Deaths

July 2016
HHS is continuing its work to combat the nation’s opioid epidemic. New actions include expanding access to buprenorphine, a medication to treat opioid use disorder, a proposal to eliminate any potential financial incentive for doctors to prescribe opioids based on patient experience survey questions, and a requirement for Indian Health Service prescribers and pharmacists to check state Prescription Drug Monitoring Program (PDMP) databases before prescribing or dispensing opioids for pain.

October 2015
The Obama Administration announced landmark efforts to address prescription drug abuse and heroin use through prescriber training and improving access to treatment.

March 2015
The Secretary for Health and Human Services’ Opioid Initiative was launched to combat the nation’s prescription opioid crisis.  ONC leads and supports several activities all aimed at utilizing health IT to improve health outcomes by reducing the misuse and abuse of opioid painkillers. 

ONC is supporting the Secretary’s Opioid Initiative by:

  • Using health IT to improve access to Prescription Drug Monitoring Programs (PDMPs). Providers, on the front lines, need actionable PDMP data that is readily available when making prescribing choices.
  • Furthering the adoption of electronic prescribing of controlled substances (EPCS). EPCS is now legal in all 50 states. It can result in safer, more efficient prescribing and help reduce fraud and abuse.

For more information of the Federal response visit www.hhs.gov/opioids.

More Information

HHS Takes Strong Steps to Address Opioid-drug Related Overdose, Death and Dependence
Health IT helping to fight the prescription drug abuse epidemic
Electronic Prescribing of Controlled Substances is on the Rise
3 Facts Most People Don't Know about Prescription Drug Abuse
President Obama/Secretary Burwell WV Opioid Community Forum Video

Additional Resources

Office of National Drug Control Policy
Opioids: The Prescription Drug & Heroin Overdose Epidemic
The Center for Disease Control’s Prescription Drug Overdose: Prevention for States
Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration
National Association of Boards of Pharmacy (NABP)

Questions? Contact onc.opioids@hhs.gov