How Well Do Doctors Know Their Patients? Evidence from a Mandatory Access Prescription Drug Monitoring Program
Many opioid control policies target the prescribing behavior of health care providers. In this paper, we study the first comprehensive state-level policy requiring providers to access patients’ opioid history before making prescribing decisions. We compare prescribers in Kentucky, which implemented this policy in 2012, to those in a control state, Indiana. Our main difference-in-differences analysis uses the universe of prescriptions filled in the two states to assess how the information provided affected prescribing behavior. As many as forty percent of low-volume opioid prescribers stopped prescribing opioids altogether after the policy was implemented. Among other providers, the major margin of response was to prescribe opioids to approximately sixteen percent fewer patients. While providers disproportionately discontinued treating patients whose opioid histories showed the use of multiple providers, there were also economically-meaningful reductions for patients without multiple providers and single-use acute patients.
Thomas C. Buchmueller, Colleen M. Carey, and Giacomo Meille