Collaborating to Prevent Opioid Abuse

| | Evidence Based Medicine

At UR Nation we’re excited about the collaboration we see in the effort to prevent opioid abuse. For example, MetroHealth System in Cleveland has created an Office of Opioid Safety. The office is scheduled to open in July and will be the first of its kind in Northeast Ohio. The MetroHealth System serves residents of Cleveland and greater Cuyohoga County and is one of the three major health care systems in Cleveland, along with Cleveland Clinic and University Hospitals of Cleveland.

Looking at MetroHealth’s services listed on its website, I don’t see workers’ compensation specifically listed. However, since Primary Care and Emergency Medicine services are listed, it’s more likely than not that an employee injured on the job could initiate or continue treatment for their work-related injury at MetroHealth. The Office of Opioid’s initiative does not appear to be limited to physicians.

The announcement states the Office will offer educational opportunities for providers and the community, communication tools to help providers connect better with at-risk patients and resources to help patients with pain management and addiction recovery. In addition, Data and analytics will be used to identify patients who may be at risk for opioid abuse. Data from prescribing patterns will be used to educate providers on policy and best practices for safe opioid use.

In addition to the MetroHealth System, several other entities have initiated collaborative efforts to prevent opioid abuse. In Virginia, the House Health, Welfare and Institutions Committee recently voted unanimously to approve seven bills aimed at fighting the opioid crisis. This legislation includes establishing guidelines for the use of opioids to treat pain and limit the prescription of medications containing opioids.

This spring, the Louisiana Commission Preventing Opioid Abuse is expected to issue a report to the Legislature with recommendations regarding short-term and long-term measures that can be taken to tackle prescription opioid and heroin abuse and addiction in Louisiana by using best practices and evidence-based strategies for its prevention, treatment, and enforcement. The Commission was established by HCR 113, adopted during the 2016 legislative session; its members include the executive director of the Louisiana Workforce Commission and the commissioner of insurance or his designee.

Last fall, the Louisiana Department of Insurance sounded the alarm to bring attention to the problems caused by the opioid and heroin epidemic and highlight the ways multiple agencies and government entities are fighting back. In the announcement, Insurance Commissioner Donelon cited WCRI’s study that found that one in six injured workers in Louisiana was identified as having longer-term use of opioids, the most prevalent out of the 25 states included in the two-year study period. The Louisiana legislature is expected to consider adopting a workers’ compensation formulary during the 2017 legislative session.

Other actions include New York, Nebraska and Illinois considering formulary legislation in 2017 and California expected to adopt rules establishing a drug formulary for implementation by July 1, 2017. And you may recall U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy’s August 2016 letter to 2.3 million clinicians asking them to take the pledge to help solve the opioid crisis.

These collaborative efforts are encouraging. Workers’ compensation initiatives that will complement these actions include analyzing utilization requests for medications and medical bills for drugs prescribed and dispensed. Information gleaned from this analysis facilitates discussion among the parties working together to provide appropriate and timely medical care to employees with a work-related injury. Ongoing data analysis will also assist in assessing the effectiveness of workers’ compensation drug formularies/treatment guidelines.

Jaelene Fayhee

Jaelene Fayhee

Jaelene Fayhee, AVP, Client Solutions for UniMed Direct, is a regulatory expert who works hand-in-hand with clients and the technology department to deliver technology and medical solutions to clients. Jaelene is focused on using technology to ensure compliance with current and upcoming regulatory requirements and delivering prompt and appropriate decisions to expedite medical decisions for injured workers.