HealthMarch 19, 2020

The State of Drug Diversion 2020 Report

Two in five hospitals lack formal drug diversion programs. A study on the state of drug diversion in the U.S. reveals healthcare professionals are losing confidence in traditional drug diversion detection methods.

Invistics, now Wolters Kluwer, released a study on the state of drug diversion in America. Conducted by Porter Research, the results reveal that nearly all healthcare professionals agree that drug diversion is occurring across the country, yet almost half of the professionals who participated in the research still don’t have drug diversion detection programs.

Nearly all survey respondents believe that drug diversion negatively impacts quality of care, harms patient safety, and jeopardizes compliance, putting their organizations at risk. At the same time, almost two-thirds say they are only “somewhat confident” in the effectiveness of their organization’s drug diversion program.

“Drug diversion is a tricky issue in today’s healthcare industry. In comparing this year’s survey with the survey results from two years ago, we hoped to find that more progress was being made toward early detection and prevention. Unfortunately, that was not the case,” said Cynthia Porter, CEO of Porter Research. “Too much has stayed the same – over 40 percent of the healthcare facilities represented in this survey still do not have drug diversion programs. Of those with diversion programs, many are still not highly confident in the efficacy and efficiency of their programs.”

Key findings about drug diversion programs

  • Nine in ten surveyed say they believe their facility’s drug diversion program is the same or even better than other organizations, and two out of three are confident or very confident that their drug diversion program successfully identifies employees that divert drugs; yet, 70 percent of participants said they believe most diversion incidents in the U.S. go undetected.
  • When asked to rate their confidence levels on a scale of 1-5 (with 5 being very confident), slightly less than half (47 percent) said they are very confident that the drug diversion program at their facility meets audit requirements for DEA, Board of Pharmacy and Joint Commission.
  • A vast majority (86 percent) have met or know someone who has diverted drugs, and 43 percent feel their organization could be at risk from fines, bad press, lawsuits, or overdoses due to past or potential drug diversion at their facility.
  • Survey respondents are losing confidence in traditional drug diversion detection methods. In the last two years, the percentage of respondents who said ADC reports are effective or very effective at the identification and/or prevention of drug diversion dropped from 78 percent to 52 percent.
  • The survey found that healthcare professionals recognize the value of machine learning and advanced analytics solutions. Sixty-five percent say that machine learning software is an effective tool to uncover drug diversion and 84 percent think advanced analytics solutions are effective.

“Despite the awareness of the issue, drug diversion is notoriously difficult to detect,” said Tom Knight, VP of Business Development at Wolters Kluwer. “It’s exciting to see that healthcare executives who want to create stronger drug diversion programs recognize that emerging technologies like advanced analytics and machine learning can help them achieve more accurate, timely results.”

Drug diversion survey methodology

235 healthcare professionals were surveyed in October and November 2019, 138 of whom have a diversion program at their healthcare facility. Survey participants included directors of pharmacy, nursing executives, compliance executives, and drug diversion specialists. Porter Research completed this study on behalf of Invistics.

Taking action with your drug diversion program

As drug diversion incidents continue to grow, it becomes imperative that all hospitals consider solutions that help expose healthcare workers who are diverting to protect patients, profitability, and reputations. The surveys make clear that, as an industry, we are currently failing to expand drug diversion programs as rapidly as needed when the number of diversion programs remains virtually the same over two years.

We also need to more closely match resources dedicated to building diversion programs with the amount of time needed to complete investigations. This problem can be approached from two angles: Expanding staff to increase FTEs dedicated to drug diversion detection and increasing the use of technology— machine learning, ADCs, advanced analytics, and automated reports from ADCs—to cut time and make investigations more accurate.

Finally, recognizing the fully loaded costs of drug diversion is extremely important. There isn’t just the cost of the drugs themselves—although those numbers are breathtaking, we also have to account for organizational fines when regulatory targets aren’t met, the costs of lost productivity, the cost of turnover, rehabilitation programs, and legal liabilities. It’s uncomfortable, yet necessary, to acknowledge that consumers, insurers, and taxpayers bear the brunt of those costs.

The time has come for healthcare organizations to bring drug diversion into the spotlight and build strategic programs that protect patients, consumers, and the organizations themselves.

Key takeaway in Drug Diversion 2020 survey

Using machine learning, advanced analytics, and automated systems/reporting can give hospitals a better chance to catch healthcare workers who divert before risky scenarios take place. Machine learning can also effectively validate and support human solutions by crunching data in near real-time and “learning” behavior patterns that can be applied to make data more effective.

To access the survey findings, please fill out the form

Learn More About Sentri7 Drug Diversion
Sentri7 Drug Diversion
Quickly uncover potential diversion from purchase to patient with predictive analytics and actionable dashboards.
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