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Encouraging Prescription Monitoring Program (PMP) Engagement

Using behavioral insights to increase PMP use and facilitate safe and appropriate opioid prescribing

This project was a partnership between Minnesota Management and Budget (MMB), the Board of Pharmacy’s Prescription Monitoring Program (PMP), and a team of researchers from several leading universities. Minnesota’s PMP collects and shares prescription data from licensed pharmacies and dispensers to assist prescribers of opioids and other controlled drugs. Prescribers in Minnesota are required by statute to have a PMP account and use it when making prescriptions for new patients or at least once every three months for continuing patients.

We conducted a randomized control trial to determine if sending correspondence to opioid prescribers across the state can impact their use of the PMP, particularly related to the risk of co-prescribing benzodiazepines or gabapentinoids with opioids. We randomly assigned 12,000 prescribers to receive one of three different versions of letters or no letter at all. One letter highlighted the new state mandate to check the PMP before prescribing. A second letter provided guidelines discouraging coprescribing with a list of coprescribed patients, and, finally, a third letter contained both messages combined.

The first and third letters, both of which mentioned the state’s new mandate, increased PMP search rates by prescribers 4.5 and 4.0 percentage points, respectively, with no significant effect on coprescribing behavior. Both letters also increased PMP account holding rates. The second letter, which contained coprescribing information but did not mention the mandate, had no significant effects on PMP use. These results support the use of simple and relatively low-cost letter interventions as evidence-based tools to increase PMP engagement and ensure prescribers are aware of new state policies or regulations. continues to explore new projects that can build upon this work to encourage PMP use for clinically appropriate prescribing.

Health Affairs Article

Project Status: 


Project Lead: 

Dr. Weston Merrick

Evaluation Priority Area: 

Opioid Epidemic Response

Project Pre-registration

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