COVID-19 has been at the forefront for health care professionals, and for everyone, this year. And it looks like it will remain that way for some time. However, it’s important that we don’t let other public health threats slip off our radar.

Opioid misuse remains a significant and devastating threat to American families and communities. It also affects nearly every area of health care, as hospitals and health systems have devoted substantial resources to address it.    

In 2017, the AHA released Stem the Tide: Addressing the Opioid Epidemic, a toolkit that advised caregivers on how they could partner with patients, clinicians and communities to address the opioid epidemic. Since then, we have learned more about effective strategies and interventions. And today, we are releasing a companion resource, Stem the Tide: Opioid Stewardship Measurement Implementation Guide.

Think of this new data-driven guide as the “how to” part of the Stem the Tide initiative. It  connects knowing to doing, offering hospitals and health systems actionable ideas for program development and implementation. It presents monitoring and measurement standards, supported by evidence-based protocols, for prescribing responsible amounts of opioids to patients and safeguarding prescription drugs from diversion. 

Taken together, the two guides can help hospitals and health systems shape their strategic direction to address opioid use disorders through effective measurement.

The opioid epidemic is complex, and no two communities are alike in what they’re facing. Moreover, it can be difficult for caregivers to sift through all of the latest literature, federal and state guidelines, best practices, and other information to really understand their organization’s and community’s greatest opportunities for improvement.

But this new Implementation Guide can help simplify all of it. Adaptable to each community’s needs, the guide can help hospitals and health systems accelerate their journey in identifying opportunities for improvement and measuring progress on opioid stewardship. 

I encourage you to take a look, and share it with your physicians, nurses and other colleagues as we all work together to stem the tide of the opioid crisis.

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