ECRI Institute and EHR Association Collaborate on New Recommendations for Safer Opioid Prescribing

ECRI Institute’s Partnership for Health IT Patient Safety and HIMSS Electronic Health Record Association develop strategies to support clinicians with pain management decisions at the point of care

March 26, 2019

PLYMOUTH MEETING, PA—The Partnership for Health IT Patient Safety, a multi-stakeholder collaborative convened by ECRI Institute, together with the HIMSS Electronic Health Record Association (EHRA), are releasing new guidance for safer opioid prescribing through electronic health records (EHRs).

ECRI Institute and EHRA’s jointly released white paper, Safe Practice Recommendations for Safer Opioid Prescribing: Measures and Clinical Decision Support, highlights the positive cycle of performance measurement and clinical decision support incorporated into the EHR to enable safer opioid prescribing.

The accompanying implementation guide provides strategies that healthcare providers across all care settings can use now and with future innovation. The strategies are based on three high-level recommendations:
1. Enable technologies to measure and monitor prescribing patterns to allow safer opioid prescribing
2. Ensure that EHRs can collect and access the data needed to support measures and drive clinical decision support (CDS)
3. Ensure that opioid-prescribing CDS interventions are delivered at the right time in the workflow for both opioid-naïve and opioid-exposed patients

“The United States is in the midst of a deadly opioid crisis. It’s clear that EHRs and other health IT solutions have an important role to play in supporting providers in this complex crisis,” says Shari Medina, MD, of Harris Healthcare and chair of EHRA’s Patient Safety Work Group, who led the Partnership workgroup on this joint project.

“For example, one of the data points provided by ECRI showed that in two-thirds of patient safety events related to opioid prescribing, existing clinical decision support mechanisms were either ignored, bypassed or did not function as expected. Our CDS recommendations hope to address this,” adds Medina.

EHRA, as a joint collaborator on the safer opioid prescribing project, brought together experts from companies that develop, market, and support EHRs to work on issues supporting safe technology, healthcare delivery, and continued innovation.

ECRI Institute’s team analyzed health IT data from Partnership for Health IT Patient Safety participants, as well as event data from numerous Patient Safety Organizations. “We also conducted an exhaustive search of the literature and analyzed the evidence,” says ECRI Institute's Lorraine Possanza, DPM, JD, MBE, program director.

The combined expertise of the EHRA members who participated on the workgroup and knowledge from the data analysis and evidence synthesis contributed to the overall recommendations and implementation strategies.

“Many of these EHR-focused opioid-related safety opportunities are acknowledged in the proposed rule on enhanced interoperability recently issued by the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT,” notes Mark Segal, PhD, workgroup member and digital health policy expert. “This is positive news for clinicians who have been asking for help in making opioid prescribing safer for their patients,” adds Segal.

The EHRA-ECRI Joint Project on Safer Opioid Prescribing was a proof-of-concept project that demonstrated the value of combining Patient Safety Organization (PSO) data gathering and analytics with developer expertise in a collaborative environment.

Materials are publicly available and include a white paper—Safe Practice Recommendations for Safer Opioid Prescribing: Measures and Clinical Decision Support; an implementation guide—Measures and Clinical Decision Support for Safer Opioid Prescribing: Recommendations and Implementation Strategies; and an evidence-based literature review, Measures and CDS for Safer Opioid Prescribing: A Literature Review.

To learn more, contact us by telephone at (610) 825-6000; by e-mail at; or by mail at 5200 Butler Pike, Plymouth Meeting, PA 19462.

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About ECRI Institute
ECRI Institute, a nonprofit organization, is an independent, trusted authority on the medical practices and products that provide the safest, most cost-effective care. For more than half a century, ECRI Institute has built its reputation on rigorous evidence-based research, with an unwavering dedication to strict conflict-of-interest policies and transparent reporting of its findings. ECRI Institute is designated an Evidence-based Practice Center by the U.S. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. ECRI Institute PSO is listed as a federally certified Patient Safety Organization by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Visit and follow @ECRI_Institute.

About the Electronic Health Record Association (EHRA)
Established in 2004, the Electronic Health Record Association (EHRA) brings together companies that develop, market, and support electronic health records (EHRs), to collaborate on issues that impact our businesses and our collective customers—hospitals and providers that represent the majority of EHR users in the US. We work together to speak with a unified voice on these topics in a non-competitive, collegial effort to understand, educate, and collaborate with all stakeholders engaged with EHRs and health information technology. EHRA operates on the premise that the rapid, widespread adoption of EHRs is essential to improve the quality of patient care, as well as the productivity and sustainability of the healthcare system as a key enabler of healthcare transformation. The EHR Association and its members are committed to supporting safe healthcare delivery, fostering continued innovation, and operating with high integrity in the market for our users and their patients and families. For more information, please visit and follow @EHRAssociation.

For more information, contact:
Laurie Menyo, Media Relations Manager
(610) 825-6000, ext. 5310