First Choice offers reports to curb opioid risks in Seattle area

Seattle-based First Choice Health will offer free de-identified prescription opioid use reports to employers in the Puget Sound area.

The company offers third party administration, employee assistance, medical management and a PPO network to members in Alaska, Idaho, Montana and Oregon.

"This workforce prescription opioid use report helps to identify if there is a problem, which is the first step in fighting the opioid epidemic," says John Robinson, chief medical officer at First Choice.

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Jaja Okigwe, president and CEO of First Choice, says the public service reports will provide insight to local businesses on how the opioid epidemic is affecting their employees—a critical first step in addressing the issue head on.

First Choice’s screening report uses opioid prescribing metrics developed by the Washington state-mandated Dr. Robert Bree Collaborative. First Choice’s free report provides data on opioid prescriptions by age group, the number of employees prescribed opioids for 60 days or more in one quarter and whether a new opioid prescription is for more than 14 days.

The First Choice report will also particularly aim to find a high-risk group that includes anyone prescribed opioids together with sedatives for more than 60 days within a three-month period, considered to be a potentially deadly combination.

The reports dovetails with First Choice’s June 3 announcement of a new Chronic Opioid Pain and Education program, called “COPE,” aimed at reducing opioid misuse and abuse in the workplace. “FHC offers one of the most comprehensive data analysis and outreach programs on opioid use in the country,” the health plan says.

First Choice uses the Bree metric system to target its own members for opioid risks. After they have been identified, the health plan’s case managers reach out to confidentially discuss prescription use and treatment options—which may include alternative pain management or counseling, First Choice says.

"With more than 100 million individuals in the U.S. estimated to suffer from chronic pain, many patients who begin with opioid prescriptions that at first seem appropriate, eventually develop a substance use disorder," Robinson says.

According to Okigwe, when it comes to fighting the opioid crisis, data analysis is critical, but taking action is even more important. "By leveraging the application of smart, practical data, we can partner with employers to help mitigate and manage a variety of chronic health issues, including prescription opioid abuse and addiction, which continues to be one of the biggest health epidemics facing employers and employees today," he says.

First Choice is offering the free report to companies that employ more than 200 people and are located in the greater Puget Sound area. If the company has locations in other areas, only the employees working in the greater Puget Sound area will be eligible, First Choice says. The report is available until September 15.

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