NEWS: Free Toolkit Helps Physicians Safely Prescribe Opioids

Opioid Management Toolkit includes patient questionnaires, calculators, and contracts to help physicians assess, track and monitor opioid use

July 30, 2014 – Toronto, ON – Opioid addiction in Canada has grown starkly over the past two decades, becoming a widespread public health problem affecting individuals, families, and whole communities. In response, many physicians are requesting assistance to safely prescribe opioids for their patients. Despite the wide availability of academic resources and guidelines, translating this knowledge effectively at the point of care remains a challenge for front-line clinicians.

In an attempt to help, Toronto-based startup CognisantMD has released a comprehensive and easy-to-use toolkit that physicians can apply at the point of care to assess, track and monitor opioid use in the patient record. The tools, which provide guideline-based decision support through a series of patient questionnaires and agreements, patient record flowsheets, and risk assessment calculators, are freely available for use with OceanWave™ patient tablets and TELUS PS Suite® Electronic Medical Record (EMR).

The toolkit comes on the heels of an announcement by the Ministry of Health of a $3.6 million fund to support the development of evidence-based practices for appropriate prescribing of commonly abused prescription drugs, including opioids.

“Without a proper screening and charting process in place for prescribing controlled substances, patients are at risk. On the one hand, we’re seeing rates of opioid addiction and related deaths skyrocket; on the other hand, many physicians are erring on the side of caution, leading to inadequate pain management,” said Dr. Doug Kavanagh, a Toronto-based family physician and Co-founder of CognisantMD. “This toolkit puts guideline-based tools into the hands of patients and physicians right at the point of care, helping to reduce risk when prescribing opioids for chronic pain.”

The Opioid Management Toolkit includes five patient-facing tools to assess pain levels and risk of abuse, capture a focused history during follow-up visits, and secure agreement from patients around treatment plans. These questionnaires can be administered on a touchscreen tablet in the doctor’s office or online from the patient’s home via a secure web portal.

The toolkit also includes six resources designed for use with the EMR to assist in Opioid management, including point-of-care forms and flowsheets, calculators, and patient-centred handouts. All tools are available as a free download from the CognisantMD Library, and integrate with the TELUS PS Suite® EMR.

The Opioid Management Toolkit was developed in accordance with McMaster National Pain Centre’s Opioid Manager and the “Canadian Guideline for Safe and Effective Use of Opioids for Chronic Non-Cancer Pain”. It is available now on the CognisantMD website at, and in the CognisantMD Library.  The tools are available for free use on either Telus PS Suite EMR or the EMR-independent OceanWave questionnaire platform.

The Ocean Platform™ and associated library of tools are openly available to any consultants interested in responding to Health Canada’s Drug Strategy Community Initiatives Fund (DSCIF) Call for Proposals.

About CognisantMD

CognisantMD™ is a leading provider of health informatics and clinical decision support technology, specializing in electronic medical records optimization, healthcare quality improvement, and clinical research. Founded by a family physician and the original architect of the most-deployed electronic medical records technology in Canada, CognisantMD’s Ocean platform uses mobile and cloud-based technologies to address common communication gaps in our healthcare system. From office administration to clinical practice and research, Ocean tools help streamline and improve interactions between patients, healthcare providers, and researchers. For more information, visit