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March 14, 2022 Startups, Innovation & Technology

Opioid epidemic boosts demand for Medacist’s drug-diversion software

PHOTO | CONTRIBUTED David Brzozowski Sr. is the CEO and co-founder of Medacist Solutions Group, which makes drug-diversion software for healthcare providers.

The COVID-19 pandemic dominated healthcare news over the last two years, but another major issue that hasn’t gone away is opioid abuse.

In fact, the social stresses brought on by the pandemic have only exacerbated mental health issues in Connecticut and across the country. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there were 81,000 U.S. overdose deaths in the 12 months ending in May 2020, the highest number ever recorded in a 12-month period.

Cheshire-based healthcare analytics company Medacist Solutions Group has developed software that aims to help hospitals and long-term care facilities combat the drug and opioid crisis.

The company has several software platforms that use artificial intelligence and machine learning to help providers track how medications are being dispensed and prevent drug diversion, or the theft of drugs within healthcare facilities.

It also alerts providers to overprescription patterns that could put patients, including those with addiction issues, in harm’s way.

The privately-held company with 25 employees has more than 2,000 clients nationwide that use its software for regulatory compliance and to ensure their facilities are responsibly prescribing and monitoring medications.

“Hospitals bear the cost of diverted drugs, internal investigations, employee turnover and follow-up care for affected patients,” said Medacist CEO and Co-founder David Brzozowski Sr. “[They] are high cost drivers.”

The growing drug epidemic has boosted demand for Medacist’s products, Brzozowski said, as organizations have become more vigilant about tracking dispensing patterns.

Annual revenue growth in recent years has exceeded 20%, and the company has tripled its investment in technology and software engineering, hiring local technology professionals, said Brzozowski, who declined to disclose any specific financial information.

The company is currently recruiting more workers, he added.

Medacist’s most popular service is called RxAuditor Investigate, a prescription monitoring software that uses data analytics and AI.

It tracks physician prescribing practices and alerts users when the number of prescribed medications are outside the norm, and could indicate cases of overprescription that need to be investigated.

Its other platforms include Genesis Analytics, which helps identify drug diversion through pattern recognition, and RxAuditor Analytics, which helps hospitals manage their automated pharmacy dispensing systems more efficiently.

Hospitals and other healthcare entities use the software because they could be issued steep fines if found liable for illegal activity, such as prescribing unnecessary drugs to patients.

For example, last November the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center agreed to pay $4.5 million to resolve allegations that its violations of the federal Controlled Substances Act allowed staff to divert fentanyl and other dangerous drugs from the hospital.

That was the largest settlement involving drug-diversion allegations at a Texas hospital and the second largest in the nation, according to the U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Texas.

“We’ve seen countless lawsuits and settlements this year totaling in the billion-dollar figure range,” Brzozowski said. “This is why our solutions are difference makers. We can track, reconcile, and detect these instances [of fraud and illegal activity] to avoid such costly mistakes to their bottom line and their reputation as well.”

Brzozowski, 62, co-founded Medacist along with his wife, Lorraine, in August 1998.

Prior to that, Brzozowski owned a computer consulting business. He said Medacist has grown to the point where it now serves most of the largest health systems in the country, as well as facilities in Guam and Puerto Rico.

Medacist’s primary competitors are Virginia-based Kit Check and San Diego-based CareFusion.

Steven Burke

Looking ahead, Brzozowski said, he wants to ensure that the analytics his company provides give his clients a higher level of accountability regarding drug diversion and reducing liability.

“Our long-term strategy is to deliver advanced analytics across the healthcare continuum of care by expanding our reach across all disciplines of health care to improve patient outcomes for the customers we serve,” he said.

Steven Burke, director of pharmacy at Bristol Hospital, said his care facility has worked with Medacist for the past eight years.

It hired Medacist because it offered a cost-effective reporting system that integrated with Bristol Hospital’s medication dispensing system. The overall results have been positive, he said.

“We want a safe medication-use environment,” Burke said. “We want to reduce theft. We want to protect our staff from addictions. We want to make sure our patients receive the highest level of care. Drug diversion monitoring leads to a safer environment for our patients and staff.”

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