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
Join IBM November 1 at 21st Cloud Expo at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, and learn how IBM Watson can bring cognitive services and AI to intelligent, unmanned systems. Cognitive analysis impacts today’s systems with unparalleled ability that were previously available only to manned, back-end operations. Thanks to cloud processing, IBM Watson can bring cognitive services and AI to intelligent, unmanned systems. Imagine a robot vacuum that becomes your personal assistant tha...
Organizations do not need a Big Data strategy; they need a business strategy that incorporates Big Data. Most organizations lack a road map for using Big Data to optimize key business processes, deliver a differentiated customer experience, or uncover new business opportunities. They do not understand what’s possible with respect to integrating Big Data into the business model.
The session is centered around the tracing of systems on cloud using technologies like ebpf. The goal is to talk about what this technology is all about and what purpose it serves. In his session at 21st Cloud Expo, Shashank Jain, Development Architect at SAP, will touch upon concepts of observability in the cloud and also some of the challenges we have. Generally most cloud-based monitoring tools capture details at a very granular level. To troubleshoot problems this might not be good enough.
Nordstrom is transforming the way that they do business and the cloud is the key to enabling speed and hyper personalized customer experiences. In his session at 21st Cloud Expo, Ken Schow, VP of Engineering at Nordstrom, will discuss some of the key learnings and common pitfalls of large enterprises moving to the cloud. This includes strategies around choosing a cloud provider(s), architecture, and lessons learned. In addition, he’ll go over some of the best practices for structured team migrat...
Coca-Cola’s Google powered digital signage system lays the groundwork for a more valuable connection between Coke and its customers. Digital signs pair software with high-resolution displays so that a message can be changed instantly based on what the operator wants to communicate or sell. In their Day 3 Keynote at 21st Cloud Expo, Greg Chambers, Global Group Director, Digital Innovation, Coca-Cola, and Vidya Nagarajan, a Senior Product Manager at Google, will discuss how from store operations...
As people view cloud as a preferred option to build IT systems, the size of the cloud-based system is getting bigger and more complex. As the system gets bigger, more people need to collaborate from design to management. As more people collaborate to create a bigger system, the need for a systematic approach to automate the process is required. Just as in software, cloud now needs DevOps. In this session, the audience can see how people can solve this issue with a visual model. Visual models ha...
Recently, REAN Cloud built a digital concierge for a North Carolina hospital that had observed that most patient call button questions were repetitive. In addition, the paper-based process used to measure patient health metrics was laborious, not in real-time and sometimes error-prone. In their session at 21st Cloud Expo, Sean Finnerty, Executive Director, Practice Lead, Health Care & Life Science at REAN Cloud, and Dr. S.P.T. Krishnan, Principal Architect at REAN Cloud, will discuss how they bu...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Dasher Technologies 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. Dasher Technologies, Inc. ® is a premier IT solution provider that delivers expert technical resources along with trusted account executives to architect and deliver complete IT solutions and services to help our clients execute their goals, plans and objectives. Since 1999, we'v...
When it comes to cloud computing, the ability to turn massive amounts of compute cores on and off on demand sounds attractive to IT staff, who need to manage peaks and valleys in user activity. With cloud bursting, the majority of the data can stay on premises while tapping into compute from public cloud providers, reducing risk and minimizing need to move large files. In his session at 18th Cloud Expo, Scott Jeschonek, Director of Product Management at Avere Systems, discussed the IT and busine...
Enterprises have taken advantage of IoT to achieve important revenue and cost advantages. What is less apparent is how incumbent enterprises operating at scale have, following success with IoT, built analytic, operations management and software development capabilities – ranging from autonomous vehicles to manageable robotics installations. They have embraced these capabilities as if they were Silicon Valley startups. As a result, many firms employ new business models that place enormous impor...
SYS-CON Events announced today that TidalScale, a leading provider of systems and services, 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. TidalScale has been involved in shaping the computing landscape. They've designed, developed and deployed some of the most important and successful systems and services in the history of the computing industry - internet, Ethernet, operating s...
In his session at 21st Cloud Expo, James Henry, Co-CEO/CTO of Calgary Scientific Inc., will introduce you to the challenges, solutions and benefits of training AI systems to solve visual problems with an emphasis on improving AIs with continuous training in the field. He will explore applications in several industries and discuss technologies that allow the deployment of advanced visualization solutions to the cloud.
We all know that end users experience the Internet primarily with mobile devices. From an app development perspective, we know that successfully responding to the needs of mobile customers depends on rapid DevOps – failing fast, in short, until the right solution evolves in your customers' relationship to your business. Whether you’re decomposing an SOA monolith, or developing a new application cloud natively, it’s not a question of using microservices – not doing so will be a path to eventual b...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Taica will exhibit at the Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO) Pavilion 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. Taica manufacturers Alpha-GEL brand silicone components and materials, which maintain outstanding performance over a wide temperature range -40C to +200C. For more information, visit http://www.taica.co.jp/english/.
SYS-CON Events announced today that MIRAI Inc. will exhibit at the Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO) Pavilion 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. MIRAI Inc. are IT consultants from the public sector whose mission is to solve social issues by technology and innovation and to create a meaningful future for people.