Welcome!

News Feed Item

Prescription Pain Medication Safety Program Shows Positive Results, Promotes Quality & Prevention

(Click to Tweet) Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts’ program to improve the safety and quality of care for its members taking prescription pain medication is showing positive results. In the first 18 months of the program Blue Cross:

  • Improved safety & quality for its members
  • Decreased painkiller prescriptions
  • Lowered addiction risk for members
  • Prevented excess pills from reaching the community

“Our program is about preventing harm by making sure our members receive the highest quality care for pain, while reducing the risks that come with such treatments,” said Dr. John A. Fallon, Senior Vice President and Chief Physician Executive for Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts. “The results are encouraging and show that, among other things, health plans can play a meaningful role in helping to prevent prescription pain medication addiction.”

The Program Goal: Best and Safest Pain Care for Our Members

In July 2012, Blue Cross became the first health plan in Massachusetts to institute new safety measures aimed at reducing the risk of addiction to prescription painkillers and preventing the harmful effects from other medications used to treat pain.

The steps were taken after the health plan’s own review showed that more than 30,000 of its members received prescriptions for powerful painkillers such as Vicodin® and Percocet® lasting longer than 30-days, which many experts believe increases the risk of addiction. Among the findings, Blue Cross also found that thousands of its members were receiving combination prescriptions containing acetaminophen at levels that could potentially be harmful.

With the help of an outside panel of physicians, pain management experts, and addiction specialists new policies were instituted to promote best practices in prescribing; improve communication between providers and patients on the risks of addiction; and prevent possible addiction by reducing the number and duration of painkillers prescribed without prior authorization for treatment lasting longer than 30-days. The plan also was designed to provide doctors valuable information to help identify patients who may be at risk for addiction.

“The goal of treating pain is to relieve suffering and not to create more problems for patients,” said Dr. Edgar Ross, Medical Director for Pain Management at Brigham and Women’s Hospital. “I was pleased to help in designing this evidence-based program, and I’m happy to see that it is improving quality and safety without creating barriers to care.”

The Results: An 18-Month Checkup

  • Improved safety of pain care and reduction in risk of addiction, misuse and diversion of prescription pain medications, while protecting vulnerable patients:
    • 20% decrease in claims for short-acting opioid painkillers such as Vicodin® and Percocet®
    • 50% decrease in claims for long-acting opioids such as OxyContin®, by working with providers to switch patients to more appropriate short-acting medications
    • Excess painkiller prescriptions avoided, resulting in an estimated 6.6 million fewer doses in the community
    • More than 90% of patients prescribed greater than the recommended daily dose for acetaminophen had their prescriptions adjusted by the prescriber
    • Accommodations made for vulnerable, chronic care patients to protect their care
  • Improved quality through better communication:
    • Fostered improved communication between doctors and patients regarding the proper use and risks associated with prescription painkillers through guidelines on prescribing pain medications to Blue Cross members
    • Promoted best practices in prescribing all pain medication, including improved safety measures on the use of acetaminophen and limiting off-label use of buprenorphine for pain management
    • Closed gaps in provider information by sharing regular reports with doctors regarding their patients’ narcotic prescriptions to help identify those at higher risk of addiction
  • Enhanced care management service for those on large amounts of narcotic medications:
    • Case managers have worked with Blue Cross members to ensure access to pain management experts, and if appropriate, to explore non-narcotic methods of pain control
    • Blue Cross medical directors consulted with prescribers to improve care coordination for its members with pain management needs – especially important when more than one provider is prescribing medication for a single patient

“This initiative is a common sense approach that balances the needs of patients while addressing a real public health concern with regard to painkillers,” said Dr. Joseph Leader, a Pediatrician from Woburn, Massachusetts who has been outspoken about the need to protect adolescents from the risk of prescription opiate abuse and addiction.

In addition to the results released today, Blue Cross also strongly underscored its commitment to providing members with a full spectrum of behavioral health and addiction services. The health plan is launching new initiatives to enhance addiction care, and will offer a new social networking tool to support members with their recovery.

“Addiction to narcotics and other substances is insidious and that’s why we need to remain laser-focused on preventing addiction before it happens,” said Dr. Fallon. “We also know that treatment saves lives. If any of our members need help with addiction, they should contact their health care provider to discuss the options. Help is available.”

About Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts

Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts (www.bluecrossma.com) is a community-focused, tax-paying, not-for-profit health plan headquartered in Boston. We are the trusted health plan for more than 30,000 Massachusetts employers and are committed to working with others in a spirit of shared responsibility to make quality health care affordable. Consistent with our corporate promise to always put our 2.8 million members first, we are rated among the nation’s best health plans for member satisfaction and quality. Connect with us on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and LinkedIn.

More Stories By Business Wire

Copyright © 2009 Business Wire. All rights reserved. Republication or redistribution of Business Wire content is expressly prohibited without the prior written consent of Business Wire. Business Wire shall not be liable for any errors or delays in the content, or for any actions taken in reliance thereon.

Latest Stories
Translating agile methodology into real-world best practices within the modern software factory has driven widespread DevOps adoption, yet much work remains to expand workflows and tooling across the enterprise. As models evolve from pockets of experimentation into wholescale organizational reinvention, practitioners find themselves challenged to incorporate the culture and architecture necessary to support DevOps at scale. In his session at @DevOpsSummit at 20th Cloud Expo, Anand Akela, Senior...
Web Real-Time Communication APIs have quickly revolutionized what browsers are capable of. In addition to video and audio streams, we can now bi-directionally send arbitrary data over WebRTC's PeerConnection Data Channels. With the advent of Progressive Web Apps and new hardware APIs such as WebBluetooh and WebUSB, we can finally enable users to stitch together the Internet of Things directly from their browsers while communicating privately and securely in a decentralized way.
In his keynote at @ThingsExpo, Chris Matthieu, Director of IoT Engineering at Citrix and co-founder and CTO of Octoblu, focused on building an IoT platform and company. He provided a behind-the-scenes look at Octoblu’s platform, business, and pivots along the way (including the Citrix acquisition of Octoblu).
Multiple data types are pouring into IoT deployments. Data is coming in small packages as well as enormous files and data streams of many sizes. Widespread use of mobile devices adds to the total. In this power panel at @ThingsExpo, moderated by Conference Chair Roger Strukhoff, panelists will look at the tools and environments that are being put to use in IoT deployments, as well as the team skills a modern enterprise IT shop needs to keep things running, get a handle on all this data, and deli...
Grape Up is a software company, specialized in cloud native application development and professional services related to Cloud Foundry PaaS. With five expert teams that operate in various sectors of the market across the USA and Europe, we work with a variety of customers from emerging startups to Fortune 1000 companies.
The 20th International Cloud Expo has announced that its Call for Papers is open. Cloud Expo, to be held June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, brings together Cloud Computing, Big Data, Internet of Things, DevOps, Containers, Microservices and WebRTC to one location. With cloud computing driving a higher percentage of enterprise IT budgets every year, it becomes increasingly important to plant your flag in this fast-expanding business opportunity. Submit your speaking proposal ...
Financial Technology has become a topic of intense interest throughout the cloud developer and enterprise IT communities. Accordingly, attendees at the upcoming 20th Cloud Expo at the Javits Center in New York, June 6-8, 2017, will find fresh new content in a new track called FinTech.
SYS-CON Events announced today that CollabNet, a global leader in enterprise software development, release automation and DevOps solutions, will be a Bronze Sponsor of SYS-CON's 20th International Cloud Expo®, taking place from June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. CollabNet offers a broad range of solutions with the mission of helping modern organizations deliver quality software at speed. The company’s latest innovation, the DevOps Lifecycle Manager (DLM), supports Value S...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Interoute, owner-operator of one of Europe's largest networks and a global cloud services platform, has been named “Bronze Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 20th Cloud Expo, which will take place on June 6-8, 2017 at the Javits Center in New York, New York. Interoute is the owner-operator of one of Europe's largest networks and a global cloud services platform which encompasses 12 data centers, 14 virtual data centers and 31 colocation centers, with connections to 195 add...
The Internet of Things is clearly many things: data collection and analytics, wearables, Smart Grids and Smart Cities, the Industrial Internet, and more. Cool platforms like Arduino, Raspberry Pi, Intel's Galileo and Edison, and a diverse world of sensors are making the IoT a great toy box for developers in all these areas. In this Power Panel at @ThingsExpo, moderated by Conference Chair Roger Strukhoff, panelists discussed what things are the most important, which will have the most profound e...
Automation is enabling enterprises to design, deploy, and manage more complex, hybrid cloud environments. Yet the people who manage these environments must be trained in and understanding these environments better than ever before. A new era of analytics and cognitive computing is adding intelligence, but also more complexity, to these cloud environments. How smart is your cloud? How smart should it be? In this power panel at 20th Cloud Expo, moderated by Conference Chair Roger Strukhoff, pane...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Hitachi, the leading provider the Internet of Things and Digital Transformation, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 20th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Hitachi Data Systems, a wholly owned subsidiary of Hitachi, Ltd., offers an integrated portfolio of services and solutions that enable digital transformation through enhanced data management, governance, mobility and analytics. We help globa...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Grape Up will exhibit at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on Oct. 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Grape Up is a software company specializing in cloud native application development and professional services related to Cloud Foundry PaaS. With five expert teams that operate in various sectors of the market across the U.S. and Europe, Grape Up works with a variety of customers from emergi...
@ThingsExpo has been named the Most Influential ‘Smart Cities - IIoT' Account and @BigDataExpo has been named fourteenth by Right Relevance (RR), which provides curated information and intelligence on approximately 50,000 topics. In addition, Right Relevance provides an Insights offering that combines the above Topics and Influencers information with real time conversations to provide actionable intelligence with visualizations to enable decision making. The Insights service is applicable to eve...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Hitachi Data Systems, a wholly owned subsidiary of Hitachi LTD., will exhibit at SYS-CON's 20th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City. Hitachi Data Systems (HDS) will be featuring the Hitachi Content Platform (HCP) portfolio. This is the industry’s only offering that allows organizations to bring together object storage, file sync and share, cloud storage gateways, and sophisticated search an...