Pain and Opioids: How One Call is Combating an Epidemic
The opioid epidemic in the United States has reached astronomical proportions. In fact, about 72,000 Americans died from drug overdoses in 2017, a record number representing a rise of 10 percent. According to a NY Times article, this rise is likely related to two reasons: more Americans are using opioids and drugs are becoming more deadly due to the introduction of synthetic opioids like fentanyl.
The nature of workers’ compensation injuries lends itself to a high propensity for reported pain and ultimately, opioid use and abuse. Earlier this year, a Workers' Compensation Research Institute study of workers with low-back injuries showed that those with longer term opioid prescriptions received temporary disability benefits 251 percent longer than those treated without opioids.
As an industry leader, it is our responsibility to do our part to fight the epidemic. One Call has dedicated significant time and resources to truly understand the factors that lead to addiction to develop a comprehensive Pain and Opioid Reduction Initiative.
Our three pronged approach to address the issue combines:
- Data analytics – to identify practical and scalable solutions and partnerships that facilitate advancements in predictive analytics and machine learning capabilities.
- Clinical excellence in traditional care pathways – as highlighted by our Gold Standard Review process and supporting the American Physical Therapy Association campaign #ChoosePT.
- Practical programs in the alternative care space – currently emphasizing telehealth to address the behavioral health aspects of chronic pain, difficult behaviors, and high dose opioid use.
Or product and clinical leaders are speaking extensively at major industry conferences about traditional pain management treatments that can be prescribed in lieu of opioids – particularly physical therapy, medical marijuana and behavioral health interventions.
We are actively working with our vendor partners to supplement medical care to avoid case escalation and facilitate expedient return to work for our injured workers.
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