Methodology Consultation Success Story: Dr. Marcus Bachhuber

Between 1999 and 2015, the annual sales of opioid analgesics in the US quadrupled to about $8 billion dollars. In an effort to address over-prescribing of opioid analgesics, Dr. Marcus Bachhuber recently received a career development award (K-award) from the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) to implement a default opioid prescribing system in the electronic health record that will nudge providers to prescribe fewer opioid pills. Dr. Bachhuber used the CHERISH Methodology Consultation Service to assist him in developing his K-award application.

Dr. Bachhuber is a primary care provider and Assistant Professor in the Department of Medicine at Albert Einstein College of Medicine in the substance use disorder field. His research focuses on health system and policy approaches to reducing harms from opioids. As part of his K award, Dr. Bachhuber is interested in evaluating whether a new default dose system for opioids would affect the subsequent healthcare utilization and associated costs for clients receiving fewer opioids. Previous studies have shown that changing default settings in the electronic health records system can affect prescribing behaviors such as substituting generic medications for those with brand names. Dr. Bachhuber seeks to apply this mechanism to test whether changing the default number of pills for opioid prescriptions can affect prescribing behavior and lower costs of opioid analgesics without a significant increase in patient healthcare utilization.

During his consultation with the CHERISH Methodology Core, Dr. Bachhuber worked with CHERISH Director Bruce Schackman, PhD over a series of phone calls to develop the economic analysis elements of his proposal and identify relevant potential mentors. Dr. Schackman then introduced Dr. Bachhuber to Sean Murphy, PhD, Director of the Consultation Service, who provided additional expert input. Dr. Bacchuber said he “really enjoyed working with Dr. Schackman and Dr. Murphy. They were extremely generous with their time and helped make the grant application much more impactful and innovative.” With the benefit of this consultation, Dr. Bachhuber received the K-award that will further his career goal of becoming an independent investigator. Dr. Bachhuber has since joined CHERISH as a Research Affiliate, and recently published an article with Dr. Murphy, CHERISH investigator Dr. Dan Polsky and fellow Research Affiliate Dr. Brendan Saloner describing the physician time burden and costs associated with querying state prescription drug monitoring programs.