Opioid Alternative Pilot Program

Innovative Program Provides Medical Cannabis as Pain Control Alternative

The Illinois Opioid Alternative Pilot Program (OAPP) allows patients who meet specific criteria to access medical cannabis as an alternative to opioids. The Illinois Department of Public Health, Office of Health Promotion, runs the program with the goal of reducing the number of opioid-related deaths in Illinois.

Problem: Balancing Innovation With Regulation

On Aug. 28, 2018, the Alternatives to Opioids Act of 2018 was signed into Illinois law, establishing the OAPP. In order to put this innovative program into effect, the Illinois Department of Public Health, Office of Health Promotion, needed a technological solution to strictly regulate administrative tasks. These tasks include registration of eligible applicants, obtaining of physician information, and coordination of the overall program. The system had to integrate with a number of data sources in order to corroborate the eligibility of all participants and protect against abuse of the system. These data sources include:

  • The Illinois state traceability system, which tracks all sales of medical cannabis
  • The prescription drug monitoring system, which provides insight into physician-prescribing practices
  • The Department of Financial and Professional Regulation, which confirms that the prescribing physician holds a valid medical license and controlled substances credentials
  • The Secretary of State database, which verifies that individuals have not been issued a commercial driver’s license before medical cannabis registry cards are issued by IDPH

Solution: entellitrak-Based Illinois Cannabis Tracking System

The Illinois Department of Public Health selected the MicroPact entellitrak® platform, a low-code application development platform for case management, to power the Illinois Cannabis Tracking System (ICTS). ICTS ensures the eligibility of participants, provides a secure environment for physicians to submit patient information, and reduces the waiting time for eligible individuals.

ICTS is hosted on the AWS cloud, and features an online portal that is easy and efficient for both qualifying patients and physicians. The online user interface acts as a one-stop application for processing eligibility and getting the necessary credentials to receive medical cannabis. Physicians access the same system to submit a certification for medical cannabis for patients with whom they have a bona fide physician-patient relationship. By using this system, participants in the OAPP are getting their credentials approved quickly, providing faster pain relief and increasing their ability to reduce opioid use.

Results: Thousands of Registered Patients, Reduced Wait Times

The ICTS went live on Jan. 31, 2019. Eligible Illinois residents now have access to medical cannabis as an alternative to opioids for managing their health issues. The online availability of the system improves the ease and timeliness of registering for the program and increases security for physicians who are certifying patients. The system has reduced paperwork for qualifying patients, physicians, and program administrators.

As of Aug. 31, 2019, 2,220 patients were registered in the system, with an additional 978 awaiting physician certification. Physicians using the system numbered 531.

Ultimately, the project expects to contribute to a reduced dependence on opioids and thus reduce the number of opioid-related deaths among Illinois residents.

Case Study Highlights

  • The program provides access to medical cannabis as an alternative to opioids for qualifying individuals.
  • Eligibility and project administration are handled through the entellitrak-based Illinois Cannabis Tracking System (ICTS).
  • More than 2,000 patients and 500 physicians were registered in the system as of Aug. 31, 2019.

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