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Better Prescribing, Better Treatment

Better Prescribing, Better Treatment

Leveraging data to encourage better prescribing of opioids while protecting patients from highly addictive medications.

About the Initiative

Designed by physicians, Better Prescribing, Better Treatment is a peer-to-peer, non-punitive initiative aimed at ensuring physicians and other prescribers who see Medicaid patients in Washington state are not overprescribing addictive medications while keeping appropriate pain treatments accessible for patients who need them. The initiative was developed in partnership with the Washington State Health Care Authority, the agency responsible for administering the state’s Medicaid program (Apple Health), and the Washington State Hospital Association. Better Prescribing, Better Treatment is a component of the state opioid response plan.

Better Prescribing, Better Treatment takes a three-pronged approach to safe prescribing:

  • Apple Health prescribing policy: The initiative established a new opioid prescribing policy for Washington’s Apple Health program that introduced new pill limits for all opioid prescriptions written for the treatment of acute pain.
  • Prescriber discretion: The initiative established a non-burdensome process for automated exemption that allows the prescribing clinician to overrule those limits if it’s in the best interest of their patient by simply documenting in the medical record and indicating the exemption on the prescription. Importantly, this approach avoids the additional paperwork and administrative burden that accompany similar policies adopted in other states and that can take time away from patient care.
  • Physician-led feedback program: The initiative introduced Washington Opioid Reports, a feedback reporting program that provides data compiled from the state’s prescription monitoring program to physicians and other prescribing providers allowing them to see how their opioid prescribing practices compare to others in their health care system and specialty.

Getting results

Better Prescribing, Better Treatment's data-driven and data-sharing approach is working. The initiative, now encompassing 17,000+ prescribers at more than 20 health systems and groups in the state, has reduced opioid prescriptions exceeding the new Apple Health guidelines by nearly 70 percent since its inception in late 2017.

How to enroll

If you see Medicaid patients and your organization has yet to enroll to receive Washington Opioid Reports, simply email to enroll. Minimal resources and administrative burden required.

Expanding statewide 

Plans are underway to expand Better Prescribing, Better Treatment's data-leveraging strategy to all opioid prescribers in Washington state. We anticipate this expanded statewide opioid feedback program to be available in the first quarter of 2019.

About Washington Opioid Reports

Washington Opioid Reports, the feedback reporting program at the heart of Better Prescribing, Better Treatment, is a joint public private partnership between the Washington Health Care Authority, Washington State Medical Association, and Washington State Hospital Association. This provider-led effort provides simple feedback and comparison metrics to help clinicians evaluate their prescribing practices and curb unnecessary opiate prescribing.

Learn more about the feedback program in this webinar originally broadcast Nov. 30, 2017. Webinar presenters are Dr. Nathan Schlicher, representing the WSMA/WSHA Joint Opioid Safe Practices Task Force, and Jeb Shepard, WSMA associate director of policy and regulatory affairs.


If you have questions or concerns about the Washington Opioid Report Program, please feel free to contact us. If you have administrative, press, or patient inquiries please contact us at If you are a medical provider with questions about your reports or wanting to update your specialty or status, please email us at

Join or renew your membership today