The increasing amount of deaths due to people overdosing on opioids is unfortunately not unheard of news in America. According to the Centers for Disease Control, opiate abuse kills roughly 91 people a day in the U.S. That’s 33,215 lives taken per year. The root of this pandemic is the misuse and abuse of prescription medications in the United States. Far too many doctors are over-prescribing the drug. Parallelly, far too many people are becoming addicted to it, thus creating the opioid epidemic.
This isn’t necessarily malicious intent from physicians, although it certainly can be. It was back between 1999 and 2010 that doctors were taught that opioids, such as OxyContin, were time-released. As a result, many thought that it wouldn’t cause a high and lead to addiction. Recent studies and statistics have obviously shown the opposite and has become a growing concern and issue in America. Aetna hopes to take back control of the epidemic by keeping a record of which doctors are prescribing the drug too often. Then, Aetna notifies them that they’re prescribing it at higher rates than usual, as well has sending them educational information about the drug. So far, they have identified over 1,000 physicians, dentists, and oral surgeons in 2016 who were over-prescribing opioids.
Aetna’s goals for combating this epidemic by the year 2022 include these three simple steps: preventing, intervening, and supporting. Aetna plans to implement this by “increasing the percentage of members with chronic pain by an evidence-based multimodal approach by 50 percent.” By doing so, they will effectively reduce “the percentage of inappropriate opioid prescribing for our members by 50 percent.” They’ll also “increase the percentage of members with opioid use disorder treated with medication-assisted therapy by 50 percent.” In addition to these goals for fighting against the opioid epidemic, Aetna has removed the pre-certification of buprenorphine products in 2016. Accordingly, they will be enhancing their Controlled Substance Use program, which identifies patients who might misuse or abuse opioids. The program allows Aetna to alert prescribers and reach out to their own members to offer help.
Aetna has shown a huge amount of dedication to members of their program and to society in general. With their concerns of healthcare security by implementing a behavioral authentication program, and their efforts to combat the opioid epidemic in America, it’s no doubt that Aetna is setting the bar for sectors all across the healthcare industry.
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