Diversity, Equity and Inclusion

University of Maryland dental clinics will have a new way to monitor opioids

Rockville-based DrFirst is providing its platforms that help monitor prescriptions to prevent abuse to the university's Baltimore-based School of Dentistry.

The fight against opioid abuse is expanding to the dentist's chair.

(Photo by Flickr user Liz West, used under a Creative Commons license)

Correction: An initial version of this story misstated the number of patients seen at the UM School of Dentistry clinics in 2017. Updated at 1:30 p.m. on 3/23/18.

The University of Maryland School of Dentistry is partnering with a Rockville tech company to introduce software that helps track opioids prescribed at the Baltimore-based school’s clinics. DrFirst’s CEO said the company provides a tool to help prevent prescription drug abuse.
DrFirst makes a mobile platform that will help providers comply with the state’s Prescription Drug Monitoring Program, which requires healthcare providers to check a patient’s medication history against a state database. New requirements are set to take effect via mandate on July 1. Another tool provided by the company allows for secure text messaging among clinicians.
The tools will be used at the Baltimore-based School of Dentistry’s clinics in Baltimore, Westminster, Perryville and Frederick, which provided treatment to about 26,000 patients total in 2017. The school said it is Maryland’s largest oral healthcare provider.
Through the partnership, the apps are available to clinicians, students and alumni of the school.
The partnership “brings both the dental world and academia into the fight against opioid abuse,” DrFirst CEO Jim Chen said to Technical.ly via email. “Dentists do prescribe a large number of opioids, particularly among younger patients following the extraction of molars. This can be a slippery slope as these same patients run a higher risk of going on to abuse opioids later in life. Through education, awareness, and making available to dental students and alumni the tools to help them make more informed prescribing decision, we can continue to pull together to reduce the misuse of opioids in Maryland.”
The technology is being donated by DrFirst, according to Chen.
“We are preparing the next generation of oral health practitioners to integrate prescription drug monitoring into the clinical setting to better inform their prescribing practices,” Dr. Mark A. Reynolds, dean of the University of Maryland School of Dentistry, said in a statement.

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