Striking a Balance: Safety-Net Leaders Explore Solutions to the Prescription Painkiller Epidemic
March 16, 2015
Kristene Cristobal, Consultant
Clinics and health plans serving low-income populations face a tremendous challenge — how to provide compassionate care for patients dependent on high-dose opioids, in the face of a growing epidemic of narcotic addiction and overdose deaths.
CHCF’s California Improvement Network (CIN), a community of organizations engaged in improving health care delivery, convened leaders from health plans, community clinics, and government agencies to come up with a menu of approaches appropriate for California clinics and Medi-Cal health plans.
The group talked about the current challenges facing providers caring for patients on high-dose opioids and promising models for treatment. They converged on a set of recommended approaches:
Create broad community coalitions
Build a culture of safe prescribing by establishing consistent clinical and operational practices
Offer providers training programs and resources
Create multidisciplinary teams to work with patients on high-dose opioids or those with complex conditions
Deploy utilization and reporting tools to support safer prescribing
Explore payment reform to support integrated care
Develop and report outcome measures
This report describes the topics discussed over the course of the day: the problem of high-dose opioid use, the challenges involved in changing prescribing practices, and promising models that could be piloted and spread in organizations caring for low-income populations.