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Program overview

The Opioid Prescribing Improvement Program (OPIP) quality improvement program supports efforts to build a safer opioid prescribing culture in Minnesota. Medicaid and MinnesotaCare providers who’s prescribing patterns indicate that they prescribe outside of community standards may be required to participate in the program.

The Minnesota Department of Human Services (DHS) collaborates with partners in the health care community to align the QI program with community goals of providing patient-centered and whole patient pain management.

Experts in clinical quality improvement designed the DHS framework to be reasonable and attainable for providers. The purpose of this project is not to drive sudden decreases in the amount of opioid therapy prescribed to Medicaid and MinnesotaCare enrollees; rather the intent is to encourage a thoughtful review of the data to ensure optimal prescribing practices.

Project goals

  • Reduce initiating opioid therapy for medical conditions not indicated for opioid analgesia;
  • Improve the consistency of decision-making in the 45 days following an acute injury or surgical procedure to prevent the transition to long-term opioid therapy; and
  • Manage patients who receive opioid therapy for chronic pain carefully through multi-modal treatment, improved safety monitoring and harm reduction strategies. 

Annual Project Timeline

Beginning in 2021, the opioid prescribing reports and quality improvement program will follow an annual cycle described below.

March - April

  • DHS mailed the 2020 opioid prescribing reports the week of April 12, 2021. The annual reports reflect opioid pain medications prescribed for calendar year 2020. The reports were mailed to the public address on file at the clinician’s licensing board.  Health care providers are notified of their participation status on their 2020 opioid prescribing report. Health care providers who are required to participate in the QI project should confirm receipt of their report by sending an email to
  • Employer notification. DHS is required to inform provider groups that employ, contract with or are affiliated with health care providers required to participate in the OPIP quality improvement project. DHS is sending the data to employers via a secure electronic transmission.

May – December

For providers engaged in QI, the following program milestones are expected to be met over the course of the calendar year:

  • Project initiation: QI providers and their health systems begin work on their QI projects. DHS staff and its clinical contractors will be available for ongoing support and communication including webinars and one-on-one consultation.
  • Attestation: QI providers are required to submit an attestation to DHS. Individual attestations will be subject to a review process led by DHS and its clinical contractor.
  • Data analysis: DHS monitors prescriber data over the course of 2021, emphasizing providers who treat patients on long-term opioid therapy. Patients will be monitored for dose stability and retention.  
  • Successful completion: DHS will establish criteria for successful completion of the QI program with the guidance of our clinical contractor. To date, these expectations have not been defined.

January – March

DHS will run the prescribing data from the previous calendar year and generate the next set of annual prescribing reports.  During this period, DHS will also determine which sentinel measures will be subject to quality improvement for the upcoming year.  Then, the annual cycle will resume. 

Quality measures

The 2021 quality improvement program focuses on three of the seven OPIP measures included in the opioid prescribing reports. See the Sentinel opioid prescribing measures webpage for more information about the measures.

  1. Acute Pain Measure 2: Rate of prescribing over the recommended dose for an index opioid prescription (100 MME for medical specialties; 200 for surgical specialties)
  2. Chronic Pain Measure 5: Rate of prescribing high dose (>90 MME/day) chronic opioid analgesic therapy
  3. Chronic Pain Measure 6: Rate of prescribing concomitant benzodiazepines and chronic opioid analgesic therapy (>50 MME/day) 

DHS will add quality improvement requirements to additional measures on the opioid prescribing reports in future years. 

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