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4 Easy Recruiting Ideas for Healthcare Positions

To ensure access to care, healthcare organizations must recruit and retain trained providers. Here are some strategies to recruit qualified providers to organizations regardless of size.

Posting On the Organizational Website
Posting on individual organizational websites announces the opening to those who are already aware of your organization.  Before posting, it’s important to consider the amount of traffic that the website gets.  Larger websites with a higher number of visitors will have more success with this strategy. Since this approach has a targeted audience (people aware of the organization) smaller websites can also be successful.
Employee Referrals
Employees are excellent resources. When a position first becomes available, share this information with current employees. Many may already know qualified candidates.  When a current employee recommends someone, it usually means that they believe this person would be a good fit for both the role and the team.  Some offices even have official employee referral programs that reward current employees who refer candidates.
Specialized Job Boards
Specialized healthcare job boards like www.washingtonhealthcarecareers.com, are great resources for candidates and employers. Applicants use specialized job boards as an easy way to identify qualified openings.
When employers post on these sites, they end up with more qualified applicants.  Although many sites have larger audiences, employers may receive more applications from unqualified applicants.
Physician Recruiters
There are two types of physician recruiting firms, retained and contingency.  One main difference between the two is the fee structure. Retained firms typically charge a retainer, and get a bonus when a position has been filled.  Contingency firms typically do not charge a retainer, and instead charge their fees after a position has been filled.
Although exact costs vary, most physician recruiting firms charge around $20,000 to fill a role.  Many offices do not use recruiters because of these high costs.
Healthcare organizations use a variety of recruitment strategies.  Posts on the careers/employment section of the website inform applicants who are already aware of the organization. Employee referrals allow current staff members to recommend others who could be good fits in the role, and the organization. Specialized job boards offer a simple way to capture more qualified candidates.  Physician recruiting firms offer specialized recruiting tactics for a fee.  All of these tactics are useful for different sizes and types of healthcare organizations.

 
Resources
McDonnell, Sepi. When you SHOULD use a Physician Recruiter. Fidelis Partners. 12 September 2011.   http://fidelismp.com/when-you-should-use-a-physician-recruiter-2/ Accessed May 30, 2017.
National Association of Physician Recruiters. 2017 http://napr.org/ (Accessed May 30, 2017)
Roth, Gary. Contingency Physician Recruiting? What a SCAM! 8 September 2015, https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/contingency-physician-recruiting-what-scam-gary-a-roth
Staff Care: An AMN Healthcare Company. Best Practices for Working with a Physician Recruitment Firm. 22 April 2016. (https://www.staffcare.com/best-practices-working-with-physician-recruitment-firms/?mobile=0) Accessed May 30, 2017.

How Can A Healthcare Informatics Professional Improve A Healthcare Facility?

As a medical professional with a masters in health informatics, one would be tasked with documenting, storing, managing and using the available medical data to improve the condition of healthcare facilities at an institution. In fact, their roles have now become indispensable in any modern facility as the systems associated with managing data are becoming more and more complex with each passing day. To understand how the health information specialists are instrumental in shaping a better tomorrow for patients and the healthcare industry as a whole, let us discuss the following points.

Diversity in Knowledge and Practice

During an online MSHI degree course, a student has to go through diverse fields of study which will include but are not limited to IT security, database management, information systems, medical coding and, of course, relevant healthcare studies. They use all of this knowledge and the associated training in combination with each other to locate, organize, store, interpret, secure, and utilize massive volumes of medical data on a regular basis. As one can imagine, this essentially makes an expert HI professional one of the most important people in any medical facility.

What Else Can They Do Other than Sorting Data?

Every good HI professional does much more than just sorting medical data, even though that in itself is a very demanding job. The following are a few examples of what else the Health Informaticist often brings to the table when they join an establishment.

  • Data analysis that help administrators take decisions
  • Suggestion and development of various new improvements in terms of patient experience on the basis of data interpretation
  • Suggestion and development of strategies to cut down on expenses based on intel, data, and collaboration from other departments at the facility
  • Development and implementation of systems that measure how effective the current system of patient care is, based strictly on data
  • Interpretation and communication of medical data across departments for smoother and faster workflow

Growing Demand

The demand for healthcare informaticists are at an all-time high as more and more positions for health information resource managers, clinical data analysts, IT consultants and Health Information directors are opening up. Hiring agencies mainly include government hospitals, private hospitals, clinics, government/private agencies, and consulting firms. Technology is now an inseparable part of medical science and without the people with knowledge in multiple departments, it is slowly becoming an impossible task to manage everything efficiently.

As healthcare informatics is an interdisciplinary field of study, most experts suggest that future professionals should opt for an online program as it allows them to complete the necessary training while completing another course in some other field. For example, a trained nurse who has also completed an online MSHI program doesn’t only have much better career opportunities in the future but he/she can also become an asset to any organization. The only thing to keep in mind is that the degree should always be completed from a reputable university with the necessary affiliations that ensure quality education.

How to choose a social media platform

Social media platforms massively changed how people connect and share. In June 2017, Facebook announced that there are 2 billion registered users.  Worldwide, there are 7.5 billion people.  Approximately 27% of the human population is on Facebook.  Across all social media platforms, there are 2.8 billion users.  That’s 37% of the human population on social media. In the United States, 83% of Americans have at least one social media account.
Given these numbers, healthcare organizations of all sizes should use social media as part of a strategic recruitment plan.  Before moving forward, organizations should consider certain factors when identifying what role social media will play in recruiting efforts.

Platform Choice
There are dozens of options for social media platforms. Before deciding, leaders should research the benefits and drawbacks of each.  Organizations should also consider how they will use social media in their recruiting efforts.  These answers will help drive the decision making around platform choice.
Facebook has the most users, and it offers powerful targeting options.  Many organizations enjoy the ability to target certain audiences with their Facebook ads.  The platform recently started offering Facebook Jobs.  Since it is still new, many organizations (and candidates) haven’t fully embraced it yet.
As the most popular professional social media platform, LinkedIn is used by many healthcare recruiters.  When users are on LinkedIn, they are usually seeking to connect professionally.  Although smaller than Facebook, LinkedIn has an audience of over 500 million users.
Choosing a social media platform will naturally limit the available audience.

Users Location
Location does not matter if an organization aims to increase their number of followers.  Although many marketers consider follower count to be a vanity metric, there are still some organizations who want to have a lot of followers.  Instead organizations should work to engage with their followers. A highly engaged smaller audience can be more powerful than a large disengaged audience.
Generally, healthcare organizations will want to build an audience that includes a large number of people from their local region.  Most jobs in healthcare require employees to be on site.  By building a local audience, recruiters can more effectively use social media to target candidates who are in their local area.
Although an organization will want to have a mostly local audience, out of area visitors can provide an important resource.  Perhaps these people used to live in the area, and still support the organization.  People in this group could also share information and refer people (and qualified candidates) to the organizations.


Resources
Statista. Most Famous Social Network Sites Worldwide as of April 2017, Ranked by Number of Active Users (in Millions.) https://www.statista.com/statistics/272014/global-social-networks-ranked-by-number-of-users/  Accessed June 26, 2017.
Walters, Kendall. 125+ Essential Social Media Statistics Every Marketer Should Know, Hootsuite, 30 November 2016. https://blog.hootsuite.com/social-media-statistics-for-social-media-managers/. Accessed June 26, 2017.

Should I Hire a Physician Recruiter?

Question: My organization has an open position.  Should I hire a physician recruiter to help me fill this role?Recruiter
Answer:  It depends.  While physician recruiting firms provide an important service, they may not be the best choice in all situations.
In the 1980s, physician recruiters were staffed to respond to a national physician shortage.  The original need for their role has disappeared, but physician recruiters are still an integral part of the healthcare system. Usually, physician recruiting firms will work on a retained or contingency basis.  Although the names do not mean much to the average person, there are important differences.
Retained firms typically charge a retainer and placement fees.  These firms work closely with organizations, and will usually have an ongoing relationship with the company.  Contingency firms typically charge placement fees, and may only work with an organization once.  Both types of recruiters will be familiar with local market needs.  Hiring a physician recruiter is expensive.  Although costs vary, some estimates suggest that it could cost around $20,000 to fill one open role.
Physician recruiting firms offer an important service that may make sense for certain healthcare organizations.  Here are some things to consider when evaluating if it makes sense for your office.

  1. Recruiters bring qualified candidates to the employer.When you hire a physician recruiter, you do not have to worry about managing job postings or receiving applications.The recruiter takes care of that.
  2. Consider the role that you’re trying to fill.Is it a role where there are already a lot of interested candidates?Or are you having trouble identifying qualified candidates using your current methods?Some organizations struggle to recruit candidates in particular fields or into specific locations. Physician recruiters could work with your organization to identify the particular needs, and find candidates who are qualified in the needed fields (and interested in a particular location.)
  3. Consider the staff hours that it will take to publicize a job, review resumes, interview, and hire a candidate.Can you commit enough staff hours to properly complete the interview and hiring process?If that’s not possible, it may make sense to work with a recruiting firm.
  4. Every recruiter is different.It may take time to find one that you would like to partner with.LinkedIn is a great resource to use to identify physician recruiters in your areas.Another resource is the directory on the National Association of Physician Recruiters website.

Resources

McDonnell, Sepi. When you SHOULD use a Physician Recruiter. Fidelis Partners. 12 September 2011.   http://fidelismp.com/when-you-should-use-a-physician-recruiter-2/ Accessed May 30, 2017.
National Association of Physician Recruiters. 2017 http://napr.org/ (Accessed May 30, 2017)
Roth, Gary. Contingency Physician Recruiting? What a SCAM! 8 September 2015, https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/contingency-physician-recruiting-what-scam-gary-a-roth
Staff Care: An AMN Healthcare Company. Best Practices for Working with a Physician Recruitment Firm. 22 April 2016. (https://www.staffcare.com/best-practices-working-with-physician-recruitment-firms/?mobile=0) Accessed May 30, 2017.

3 Medical Specialties That Need Trained Providers

Nationally, there is a practitioner shortage and healthcare needs are increasing.  Between 2014 and 2024, the need for physicians and surgeons is projected to rise 14%.  The need for physician assistants will grow 30%, and nurse practitioners will increase 31%.  Simultaneously, almost 40% of the American population (i.e. the Baby Boomer generation) is aging and increasing the demand on the current healthcare system.  Political uncertainty about the future of the Affordable Care Act and a future replacement are beginning to drive changes within the industry.

Empty Hospital

Demand for trained medical providers has always been high, and continues to increase.  While specific demands will vary by region, here are some medical specialties that need providers in nearly every community.

Primary Care (including family medicine, internal medicine, and pediatrics)
Today’s healthcare system increasingly relies on the primary care provider to coordinate a patient’s care.  These providers write referrals to specialty care, and help patients navigate a complex healthcare system.  While the primary care provider role is critically important, communities in every state do not have enough providers.

According to information from the Health Professional Shortage Areas website, over 8,000 more primary care providers are needed to resolve the healthcare shortage areas in states across the country.   Some states have a greater need for primary care providers while other (smaller states) have a diminished need.  Primary care providers routinely take the first place title for the most important and sought after provider type.

Psychiatry
Today, the demand for psychiatrists is huge.  Some experts suggest that psychiatry is the second biggest provider need behind primary care.  Other sources state that it’s the third biggest need.  Regardless, the shortage of (and demand for) trained psychiatrists is significant.

Although distressing now, the psychiatrist shortage will become more severe over the next decade. One study quoted in Forbes revealed that 60% of psychiatrists engaged in active patient care are ages 55 or older.  With many of these providers nearing retirement, needs in this field is projected to increase substantially.

Hospitalist
Hospitalists are medical doctors who care for patients who are currently hospitalized.  They are aware of the unique aspects of a hospitalized patient’s stay, and are often more available than doctors who have other areas of practice.

Conclusion
With increasing demands on the healthcare system, the need for trained medical providers spans all specialties.  Although each source ranks the most in-demand roles differently, primary care providers, psychiatrists, and hospitalists are routinely needed throughout the system.


Continue reading >

Practitioner Shortages and Demand: a Summary

Today, some communities are already feeling the effects of the national shortage of trained medical providers. For example, in Josephine County, Oregon, there is only 1 doctor per 486 people. While most communities don’t have such dire numbers, many patients have to wait longer or travel further to get medical care. Regionally and nationally, communities and healthcare organizations are partnering together to take steps to ensure local access to care.

These six interesting facts begin to explain the complexities of provider shortages.

  • Fluctuating costs, technological advances, legislative changes, and an aging population all impact today’s healthcare system.Costs are frequently connected to advances in technology, insurance requirements, and legislative changes.As the Baby Boomer generation ages, the needs and demands placed on the healthcare system are systemically increasing.All of these factors have shaped today’s healthcare industry and impact the discussion of provider demands and shortages.
  • The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that the need for physicians and surgeons will grow 14% percent between 2014 and 2024.
  • Between 2014 and 2024, the need for physician assistants will increase 30% and the need for nurse practitioners will grow 31%.
  • The United States Department of Health and Human Services tracks the provider shortage areas using the Health Professional Shortage Area (HPSA) database.This database tracks provider shortages in primary care, dental care, and mental health on a scale of 0-26.Lower scores indicate fewer shortages.Higher scores indicate increased shortages.
  • Some counties in Washington rank as high as 25 out of 26 on the HPSA scales.Most communities and states need more trained healthcare providers.
  • Primary care providers are routinely needed in every area of the country. Using HPSA data, the Kaiser Family Foundation identified primary care needs by state. Delaware had the fewest primary care HPSA areas with 9.California had the most with 607 primary care HPSA areas.Washington has 155 primary care HPSA areas.

Healthcare is rapidly changing and growing. Eventually, each community will need to address the issue of practitioner shortages. While there are national trends, each region will have a unique experience based on their individual factors. Understanding the shortages is an important first step to address provider demand and how organizations can recruit trained healthcare providers. Continue reading >

What Sets Correctional Medicine Apart

Correctional medicine staff provide medically necessary care to some of America’s nearly 2 million incarcerated people. This non-traditional health care environment has unique challenges that teach important lessons

The Patients Don’t Leave, So You Improve Communication Skills  
In traditional health care environments, patients and providers fire each other. Firings can happen for a number of reasons.  Maybe the patient disagrees with the provider’s recommendations.  Or perhaps the patient violated a care plan, and the provider announces that the patient needs to seek care elsewhere.  Regardless of the reason, patients in the outside world can often find new providers. In correctional medicine, patients are not free to seek care elsewhere.
Patients and providers will continue to disagree.  In correctional medicine settings, both parties need to find a way to move past it.  Providers will need to maintain boundaries while providing medically necessary care.  These are difficult conversations with a variety of factors to consider.  Yet these discussions will teach (and solidify) valuable de-escalation skills.

All the Patients Know Each Other, So You Practice Fairness  
In traditional health care environments, patients do not know each other.  There is no opportunity for patients to discuss their clinical experiences.  In correctional medicine, all patients share the same providers.  Given that, there is a much greater opportunity for patients to discuss their clinical experiences with each other.  Any provider that is perceived as doing a favor for one patient will be asked to do the same for others.  Correctional medicine providers need to ensure that they are treating all of their patients similarly.
Providers in correctional medicine have the chance to provide medical care to their patients without considering the person’s financial status (or their ability to pay.)  The opportunity to provide fair care is unique to correctional medicine because providers in traditional health care environments consider the impact and the importance of insurance payments dramatically.

Your Patients Are Always Around, So You Can Witness Daily Life and Disease Progression
A fascinating part of medicine is watching a patient’s daily life, and how their disease progresses. Often, health care providers in traditional settings only get to see snapshots of the patient’s progression.  So they mark the changes between today and the patient’s last appointment.  Although providers can surmise about what the patient experienced between appointments—they don’t know for sure.
Correctional medicine providers do not have to surmise.  Instead they get to witness aspects of their patients in daily life.  A few providers note that the correctional medicine environment gives them much more exposure to witness disease progression than they did in traditional settings.

 
Working in correctional medicine has a unique set of challenges and learning opportunities.  Correctional medicine may not be the right fit for everybody.


Correctional Facility Nursing. Minority Nurse, 7 February 2016, http://minoritynurse.com/correctional-facility-nursing. Accessed February 9, 2017.
Correctional medicine. Wikipedia, 2 June 2016, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Correctional_medicine. Accessed February 7, 2017.
Giang, Vivian. Jailhouse Doctor Shares What It’s Like To Care For The Most Dangerous People In the World. Business Insider, 20 March 2013, http://www.businessinsider.com/what-its-like-to-be-a-doctor-in-prison-2013-3. Accessed January 31, 2017.
Keller, Jeffrey. Correctional Medicine is Different: Our Patients Don’t Go Home! JailMedicine.com, http://www.jailmedicine.com/correctional-medicine-is-different-our-patients-dont-go-home/#more-2985. Accessed February 7, 2017.
Keller, Jeffrey.  Correctional Medicine: The Principles of Fairness.  JailMedicine.com, http://www.jailmedicine.com/correctional-medicine-the-principle-of-fairness/.  Accessed February 7, 2017.
Keller, Jeffrey. Correctional Medicine is Different: All Clinical Encounters are Discussed in the Dorm. JailMedicine.com, http://www.jailmedicine.com/correctional-medicine-is-different-all-clinical-encounters-are-discussed-in-the-dorm/. Accessed February 7, 2017.
Keller, Jeffrey. Correctional Medicine is Different: We Can’t Fire Our Patients-and They Can’t Fire Us! JailMedicine.com, http://www.jailmedicine.com/correctional-medicine-is-different-we-cant-fire-our-patients-and-they-cant-fire-us/. Accessed February 7, 2017.

Introduction to the Everett Clinic

Everett Clinic was founded when four local physicians partnered together following World War I.  Atthe time, the city of Everett was thriving.  Lumber was a huge industry and many migrated to the city looking for jobs in the mills.  When the Great Depression hit a few years later, the clinic survived because they provided medical care to mill employees.  The four founders, Drs. Samuel Caldbick, Harry Secoy, Arthur Gunderson, and Leo Trask, created a healthcare organization that continues to serve patients in the Everett and larger Snohomish County communities.

The Everett ClinicToday’s Everett Clinic
As time went on, the organization gradually grew.  Each new location meant that more providers and medical specialties were added into the organization.   Today’s Everett Clinic has 28 locations serving Snohomish County communities.  There are primary care services offered for patients of all ages.  Specialty care services include physical therapy, pain care, surgery, obstetrics, and many more.
In 2016, the organization passed two milestones.  It opened its first clinic outside of Snohomish County—in Shoreline.  Second, the Everett Clinic merged with DaVita Healthcare Partners, a Fortune 500 company that shares similar core values.

Organizational Values
The Everett Clinic provides value to their patients by prioritizing service, quality, and cost. Simply, this means that the organization recognizes that patients need treatment plans that meet their personal goals.  Throughout the organization, Everett Clinic providers provide high-quality care while also working with patients to determine the best care plan for the individual.
The organizational values translate to how the organization cares for their employees.  The Everett Clinic provides medical, dental, and vision insurance to eligible employees.  There is also paid time off, disability insurance, life insurance, tuition reimbursement, 401(k) plans and more.  The organization shares similar goals with its new partner after their 2016 merger.  DaVita Healthcare Partners has the core values of service, integrity, team, continuous improvement, accountability, fulfillment and fun.  In 2011 the Everett Clinic was recognized nationally as one of the best places to work.  In 2013, it was named as the fifth largest private employer in Snohomish County.

The Everett Clinic has provided important medical care to Snohomish County residents since 1924. Although the scope of the organization’s offerings has expanded, it is still driven by the same values that its four founders held.  Provide high-quality care to patients that helps the patient reach their personal health goals.  With 28 clinic locations sprinkled throughout Snohomish County, the Everett Clinic is an important part of the healthcare landscape in western Washington.


About DaVita Inc. Davita: Bringing Quality to Life.  https://www.davita.com/about.  Accessed February 21, 2017.
Benefits: For the Whole You. The Everett Clinic, http://www.everettclinic.com/work-everett-clinic/benefits-whole-you. Accessed February 22, 2017.
Everett, Washington. Wikipedia, 20 February 2017, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Everett,_Washington. Accessed February 21, 2017.
Maps and Directions. The Everett Clinic, http://www.everettclinic.com/find-us. Accessed February 21, 2017.
More than 90 Years of Excellence. The Everett Clinic, http://www.everettclinic.com/about-us/more-90-years-excellence. Accessed February 21, 2017.
Our Core Values. The Everett Clinic,  http://www.everettclinic.com/about-us/our-core-values. Accessed February 21, 2017.
Snohomish County. Wikipedia, 2 February 2017, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Snohomish_County%2C_Washington. Accessed February 21, 2017.

What is a Medical Assistant?

Throughout the healthcare industry, staff and providers rely on medical assistants for their versatile knowledge and skills.  Found in both inpatient and outpatient settings, medical assistants support patient care clinically and administratively.

Medical AssistantWhat is the role of a Medical Assistant?
Medical assistants are an important part of the healthcare team.  They work closely with providers to complete assigned patient care tasks, and responsibilities vary depending on organizational needs.  In smaller healthcare offices, medical assistants schedule patient appointments, coordinate referrals, obtain insurance authorizations, room patients, request medical records, and assist in recording patient information into charts.  In larger organizations, medical assistants may have a more narrow scope of responsibilities.  Specialized clinics may require that a staff member focuses on a specific skill set.

Medical assistants work in a fluid environment, and staff must quickly adapt to changing needs. Even if there are multiple medical assistants, they may have separate responsibilities. Some staff may be expected to master a complex set of circumstances—like working on a procedure team.  Other staff may be responsible for making sure that patients are promptly roomed and paperwork is completed.  All medical assistants are available to assist patients by answering questions and solving problems.

Generally, medical assistants can room patients, take vital signs, record patient history, prepare samples for the lab, and record medical information into charts.  As appropriate, medical assistants also help physicians with appointments.  These staff members are also usually responsible for communicating updates after the patient has been roomed.

What are the Washington State Requirements?
Medical assistants in Washington must be licensed through the Washington State Department of Health. To be eligible for licensure, applicants need to complete a medical assistant training program.  Candidates should have completed a program that is offered or accredited by the Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools (ABHES) or the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP.)  Programs with local or regional accreditations can be counted as long as the accrediting organization is recognized by the U.S. Department of Education.  Candidates can also be eligible if they have completed an apprenticeship program administered by the state.
Candidates who have completed an appropriate program are eligible to sit for one of four certifying exams.

  • Certified Medical Assistant Exam through the American Association of Medical Assistants
  • Registered Medical Assistant Exam through American Medical Technologists
  • Clinical Medical Assistant Exam through National Health Career Association
  • National Certified Medical Assistant Exam through the National Center for Competency Testing

Additionally, candidates must also have completed high school, have proficiency in English, and complete HIV/AIDS training. Candidates must submit all required materials for review by the Washington State Department of Health.  After review, the department will follow up with the candidate about the status of their application.


Resources
How to Become a Medical Assistant. United States Department of Labor: Bureau of Labor Statistics: Occupational Outlook Handbook, 17 December 2015, https://www.bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/medical-assistants.htm.  Accessed February 27, 2017.
Medical Assistants. United States Department of Labor: Bureau of Labor Statistics: Occupational Outlook Handbook, 17 December 2015, https://www.bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/medical-assistants.htm.  Accessed February 27, 2017.
Medical Assistant—Certified or Interim Certification Requirements. Washington State Department of Health, http://www.doh.wa.gov/LicensesPermitsandCertificates/ProfessionsNewReneworUpdate/MedicalAssistant/LicenseRequirements/CertifiedorInterim. Accessed February 27, 2017.

A Brief History of the Opioid Epidemic

America’s relationship with opioid medications has grown and changed over the past 100 years. Today, the medications are connected to a national public health epidemic.  The statistics are alarming, and getting worse.  Since the situation is complicated, everyone—from providers to patients to politicians—needs to be part of the solution.

Definition
Opioids include opium derived drugs (i.e. morphine and heroin) and synthetic drugs (i.e. hydrocodone, oxycodone, and fentanyl.)

A Brief History
Use of opioid medications began before the Civil War.  In 1898, Bayer Pharmaceuticals introduced heroin into the commercial marketplace. Opioid medications (including heroin) were widely available to treat a variety of conditions for the next twenty years.  During the 1920s, doctors recognized the addictive nature of these medications.  Heroin was outlawed in 1924.
For the next 50 years, doctors avoided prescribing opioid medications to minimize the risks of addiction. Popular belief began to change in the 1970s.  A few studies came out that questioned the widespread beliefs about the true addictive risks of opioid medications.  Over the next 30 years, three new opioid medications came out.
Percocet, Vicodin, and OxyContin brought the debate around opioid medications back into the forefront.  During the 1990s, doctors wrote millions of additional prescriptions for opioid medications annually.  Year over year, the total numbers increased throughout the decade.  Although as availability increased, more people became addicted or accidentally overdosed.  Once again, people began to question the safety of these medications.
Today, steps are being taken at local, state, and federal levels to combat the overuse of opioid medications and heroin.  Although illegal, heroin plays a role in the epidemic. Due to increasing restrictions on prescriptions, some patients find it easier to use heroin instead.  The opioid epidemic is a complex problem that needs a comprehensive approach to begin to reverse it.

Current Statistics

  • According to the American Public Health Association, prescription drug abuse has been the top public health concern since 1999.  Since that point, the rate has doubled in 29 states, tripled in 10 states, and quadrupled in 4 states.
  • Someone dies every 19 minutes from an unintentional overdose.
  • Drug overdoses are part of the reason that American life expectancy has declined.
  • In 2015, more than 52,000 people died from drug overdoses.  Two thirds were linked to opioids.
  • Deaths from drug overdoses are still on the rise.

According to the Department of Health and Human Services, 20 billion dollars is spent on emergency department and inpatient care for opioid poisonings.  Health and social costs related to prescription opioid abuse are closer to 55 billion dollars.



Health Crisis. Wikipedia, 17 April 2017, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Health_crisis. Accessed April 25, 2017.
Lopez, German and Sarah Frostman. How The Opioid Epidemic Became America’s Worst Drug Crisis Ever, in 15 Maps And Charts. Vox. 29 March 2017. http://www.vox.com/science-and-health/2017/3/23/14987892/opioid-heroin-epidemic-charts. Accessed April 25, 2017.
Meldrum, Marcia. The Ongoing Opioid Prescription Epidemic: Historical Context. American Journal of Public Health, 2016 August, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4940677/. Accessed April 25, 2017.
Moghe, Sonia. Opioid History: From ‘Wonder Drug’ To Abuse Epidemic. CNN, 14 October 2016, http://www.cnn.com/2016/05/12/health/opioid-addiction-history/. Accessed April 25, 2017
Opioid. Wikipedia, 2 April 2017, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Opioid. Accessed April 25, 2017.
Opioids: The Prescription Drug & Heroin Overdose Epidemic.  United States Department of Health and Human Services, 24 March 2016, https://www.hhs.gov/opioids/. Accessed April 25, 2017
Opioid Overdose. United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 16 December 2016.  https://www.cdc.gov/drugoverdose/data/overdose.html. Accessed April 25, 2017.
The Opioid Epidemic By the Numbers.  United States Department of Health and Human Services, June 2016, https://www.hhs.gov/sites/default/files/Factsheet-opioids-061516.pdf  Accessed April 25, 2017
Prevention and Intervention Strategies to Decrease Misuse of Prescription Pain Medication.  American Public Health Association, 3 November 2015, https://www.apha.org/policies-and-advocacy/public-health-policy-statements/policy-database/2015/12/08/15/11/prevention-and-intervention-strategies-to-decrease-misuse-of-prescription-pain-medication. Accessed April 25, 2016.
Understanding the Epidemic. United States Center for Disease Control, 16 December 2016, https://www.cdc.gov/drugoverdose/epidemic/index.html.  Accessed April 25, 2017
Inside a Killer Drug Epidemic: A Look at America’s Opioid Crisis. New York Times, 6 January 2017, https://www.nytimes.com/2017/01/06/us/opioid-crisis-epidemic.html?_r=0. Accessed April 16, 2017.
Opioid Epidemic. Wikipedia, 13 April 2017, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Opioid_epidemic. Accessed April 16, 2017.

http://adai.uw.edu/pubs/pdf/2015drugusetrends.pdf