A Summary of CEO Rob Cohen’s Forbes article, “How Technology Can Combat the Opioid Epidemic”

A Summary of CEO Rob Cohen’s Forbes article, “How Technology Can Combat the Opioid Epidemic”

Forbes recently published an article by Bamboo Health CEO Rob Cohen that outlines the challenges of the opioid epidemic that has only worsened during the COVID-10 pandemic.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)’s latest data shows more than 100,000 Americans died from drug overdoses in the year ended April 2021, up almost 30% from the year prior. Opioids accounted for three-quarters of overdose deaths.

Unfortunately, the opioid epidemic is not going to abate soon. The economic and emotional impacts of the pandemic likely will linger for years. While the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 will provide billions toward mental health and substance misuse, the demand is great.

In the article, Cohen outlined three broad categories where technology may be able to help curb the effects of the epidemic.

Care Coordination and Interoperability

“Interoperability is essential to care coordination,” Cohen said. “Since many patients being treated for substance use disorder (SUD) benefit from a strong support system, a team-based approach in which data can be securely shared among clinicians, counselors, and pharmacists could be highly effective.”

Bamboo Health has a range of solutions to promote interoperability.

  • Pings delivers real-time notifications whenever patients experience care events. For SUD patients, this can be beneficial in a myriad of ways, including data that allows a team-based approach to care as well as improved referrals among physical and behavioral health entities.
  • OpenBeds enables providers to view real-time inventory of available mental health and SUD treatment resources, and digitally and rapidly refer patients to care.

Prescription Drug Monitoring Programs (PDMPs)

“PDMPs allow providers and dispensers better awareness of recent medication history to make more informed prescribing decisions to prevent misuse and intervene when there is a concern with additional assessments, conversations with the patient, and possible treatment,” Cohen said. “Beyond opioid misuse, PDMPs can prevent dangerous drug interactions and help educate patients about the prescriptions they take.”

Bamboo Health is the nation’s largest PDMP vendor, serving 43 of 54 states and territories in the U.S. Over the last year, more than 1.09 million health care providers accessed PDMP data in workflow through our solutions, which include:

  • PMP Gateway integrates data directly in the clinical workflows of electronic health records, pharmacy management systems, and health information exchanges.
  • PMP AWARxE provides state government agencies with accurate, near real-time data compliant with their regulations.
  • NarxCare helps providers analyze controlled substance data and assess risk.


Cohen shared research showing telehealth’s increase during the COVID-19 pandemic and its stable use since then, particularly for SUD, with McKinsey & Company reporting substance use treatment (30%) second only to psychiatric services (50%) in telehealth claims.

Bamboo Health is proud to work with healthcare and behavioral health providers who use telehealth to reach their patients. Our solutions help support better care, no matter if providers and patients are in the same room or connecting virtually.


“While each of the above technologies can help the opioid crisis, they are even more effective when combined,” Cohen said. “When properly integrated, the complete solution allows clinicians awareness of urgent and non-urgent physical and behavioral health needs and the tools to effectively coordinate whole-person care.”

Bamboo Health is working to bring technology pieces together to address the behavioral health and opioid epidemic head-on. Read more about how we are revolutionizing care coordination with behavioral health at the forefront in a recent blog and in our 2021 Annual Impact Report.