Once there is support for an opioid safety initiative, it is critical to describe the steps you will take to effect change, the anticipated impact of those steps, and the resources required. As with any organizational decision, you must weigh the benefits against the costs and determine the potential impact on members. To inform this process, we provide a cost-benefit calculator to assess the trade-offs between the costs and benefits of implementing medication-assisted treatment (MAT). We also list some of the common objections you may encounter when developing an opioid safety initiative, and effective responses to them.
How to Do It
- State simply the change you seek (e.g., no deaths from overdoses).
- Outline clearly how you will make the change (e.g., safer pain management, more medication-assisted therapy).
- Describe the benefits that will come from the change and incorporate available evidence (e.g., fewer deaths from overdoses, fewer emergency department visits and hospitalizations due to complications of addiction).
- Address possible objections to the change (e.g., moral hazard for naloxone, concerns about harm reduction, conflicts between medication-assisted treatment and abstinence methods).
- Estimate costs.
- Establish channels to regularly communicate and reinforce the case.
Health Plan Stories
Blue Shield of California
Part of Blue Shield of California’s strategy is to work with the broader health plan community in local and state coalitions under the belief that opioid safety should be a plan-agnostic endeavor — all stakeholders must work together to drive significant change.
Inland Empire Health Plan and the Inland Empire Opioid Crisis Coalition
The coalition publishes a monthly newsletter communicating strategies and progress, and regularly looks to California Department of Public Health data to back up its strategies. It uses these data in its communications with stakeholders. Communicating a compelling case has not been difficult in the Inland Empire. Clinicians know people affected by the epidemic, and many feel personally responsible because of their field’s actions.
Kaiser Permanente Southern California
As a first step, the steering committee quickly developed a plan to target medications at risk for misuse by teenagers.
Partnership HealthPlan of California
Partnership HealthPlan of California (PHC) created a call to action around the high death rates in its counties, enlisting local opioid safety coalitions and clinic leaders in the need for change.
A List of Common Objections and Potential Responses
While there is generally broad support for health plan actions addressing the opioid crisis, you may encounter objections from internal and external stakeholders when launching a new opioid safety initiative. Below are common objections and evidence-based responses you can use when faced with such objections. As discussed in the Motivational Interviewing Guide (PDF), it is important to give weight to everyone’s opinions and listen to ensure you understand their points of view.
Download the tool: List of Common Objections and Potential Responses (PDF).
Health Plan Vision and Mission Statements
As health plans developed opioid safety initiatives, many created vision and/or mission statements to drive their work toward common goals. The statements below were developed by health plans as they embarked on the opioid safety initiatives described in the health plan stories. Health plans can review and consider these statements as they develop their own statements summarizing the goals of their opioid safety initiatives.
Download the tool: Health Plan Vision and Mission Statements for Opioid Safety Initiatives (PDF).
- National Council for Behavioral Health: The Business Case for Effective Substance Use Disorder Treatment (PDF)
- Nevada Prevention Resource Center: Cost Offset of Treatment Services Fact Sheet