SYS-CON MEDIA Authors: Trevor Parsons, Sean Houghton, Glenn Rossman, Ignacio M. Llorente, Xenia von Wedel

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
In high-production environments where release cycles are measured in hours or minutes — not days or weeks — there's little room for mistakes and no room for confusion. Everyone has to understand what's happening, in real time, and have the means to do whatever is necessary to keep applications up and running optimally. DevOps is a high-stakes world, but done well, it delivers the agility and performance to significantly impact business competitiveness.
The Internet of Things is not new. Historically, smart businesses have used its basic concept of leveraging data to drive better decision making and have capitalized on those insights to realize additional revenue opportunities. So, what has changed to make the Internet of Things one of the hottest topics in tech? In his session at @ThingsExpo, Chris Gray, Director, Embedded and Internet of Things, discussed the underlying factors that are driving the economics of intelligent systems. Discover ...
ScriptRock makes GuardRail, a DevOps-ready platform for configuration monitoring. Realizing we were spending way too much time digging up, cataloguing, and tracking machine configurations, we began writing our own scripts and tools to handle what is normally an enormous chore. Then we took the concept a step further, giving it a beautiful interface and making it simple enough for our bosses to understand. We named it GuardRail after its function - to allow businesses to move fast and stay sa...
"BSQUARE is in the business of selling software solutions for smart connected devices. It's obvious that IoT has moved from being a technology to being a fundamental part of business, and in the last 18 months people have said let's figure out how to do it and let's put some focus on it, " explained Dave Wagstaff, VP & Chief Architect, at BSQUARE Corporation, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @ThingsExpo, held Nov 4-6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
SYS-CON Media announced today that Sematext launched a popular blog feed on DevOps Journal with over 6,000 story reads over the weekend. DevOps Journal is focused on this critical enterprise IT topic in the world of cloud computing. DevOps Journal brings valuable information to DevOps professionals who are transforming the way enterprise IT is done. Sematext is a globally distributed organization that builds innovative Cloud and On Premises solutions for performance monitoring, alerting an...
The major cloud platforms defy a simple, side-by-side analysis. Each of the major IaaS public-cloud platforms offers their own unique strengths and functionality. Options for on-site private cloud are diverse as well, and must be designed and deployed while taking existing legacy architecture and infrastructure into account. Then the reality is that most enterprises are embarking on a hybrid cloud strategy and programs. In this Power Panel at 15th Cloud Expo (http://www.CloudComputingExpo.com...
Verizon Enterprise Solutions is simplifying the cloud-purchasing experience for its clients, with the launch of Verizon Cloud Marketplace, a key foundational component of the company's robust ecosystem of enterprise-class technologies. The online storefront will initially feature pre-built cloud-based services from AppDynamics, Hitachi Data Systems, Juniper Networks, PfSense and Tervela. Available globally to enterprises using Verizon Cloud, Verizon Cloud Marketplace provides a one-stop shop fo...
Leysin American School is an exclusive, private boarding school located in Leysin, Switzerland. Leysin selected an OpenStack-powered, private cloud as a service to manage multiple applications and provide development environments for students across the institution. Seeking to meet rigid data sovereignty and data integrity requirements while offering flexible, on-demand cloud resources to users, Leysin identified OpenStack as the clear choice to round out the school's cloud strategy. Additional...
SYS-CON Events announced today that IDenticard will exhibit at SYS-CON's 16th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. IDenticard™ is the security division of Brady Corp (NYSE: BRC), a $1.5 billion manufacturer of identification products. We have small-company values with the strength and stability of a major corporation. IDenticard offers local sales, support and service to our customers across the United States and Canada...
SYS-CON Media announced today that Aruna Ravichandran, VP of Marketing, Application Performance Management and DevOps at CA Technologies, has joined DevOps Journal’s authors. DevOps Journal is focused on this critical enterprise IT topic in the world of cloud computing. DevOps Journal brings valuable information to DevOps professionals who are transforming the way enterprise IT is done. Aruna's inaugural article "Four Essential Cultural Hacks for DevOps Newbies" discusses how to demonstrate the...
The move in recent years to cloud computing services and architectures has added significant pace to the application development and deployment environment. When enterprise IT can spin up large computing instances in just minutes, developers can also design and deploy in small time frames that were unimaginable a few years ago. The consequent move toward lean, agile, and fast development leads to the need for the development and operations sides to work very closely together. Thus, DevOps become...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Windstream, a leading provider of advanced network and cloud communications, has been named “Silver Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 16th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 9–11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York, NY. Windstream (Nasdaq: WIN), a FORTUNE 500 and S&P 500 company, is a leading provider of advanced network communications, including cloud computing and managed services, to businesses nationwide. The company also offers broadband, p...
SYS-CON Events announced today that AIC, a leading provider of OEM/ODM server and storage solutions, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 16th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. AIC is a leading provider of both standard OTS, off-the-shelf, and OEM/ODM server and storage solutions. With expert in-house design capabilities, validation, manufacturing and production, AIC's broad selection of products are highly flexible and are conf...

ARMONK, N.Y., Nov. 20, 2014 /PRNewswire/ --  IBM (NYSE: IBM) today announced that it is bringing a greater level of control, security and flexibility to cloud-based application development and delivery with a single-tenant version of Bluemix, IBM's

The BPM world is going through some evolution or changes where traditional business process management solutions really have nowhere to go in terms of development of the road map. In this demo at 15th Cloud Expo, Kyle Hansen, Director of Professional Services at AgilePoint, shows AgilePoint’s unique approach to dealing with this market circumstance by developing a rapid application composition or development framework.