Independence Blue Cross Foundation launches study to improve ER addiction treatment referrals

Regional healthcare leaders and Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro gathered at an opioid forum hosted by Independence Blue Cross Foundation Tuesday to discuss strategies to curb the rising rates of opioid overdose deaths in southeastern Pennsylvania.

 

During the forum, Independence CEO Daniel Hilferty announced the launch of a collaborative study to assess the effectiveness of the "warm-handoff" protocol established across five hospitals in Bucks County. The protocol promotes the referral of emergency room patients to addiction treatment. The study will be used to establish a best practice model for the referral process, so it may be replicated throughout the state.

"The toll of addiction and overdose is stunning in Philadelphia and across the nation," Mr. Hilferty said. "We are fully engaged in battling this epidemic on several fronts: through education and public awareness efforts, by influencing safe prescribing of opioids by physicians, and by ensuring appropriate access to treatment for our members."

The more than 900 overdose deaths recorded in Philadelphia in 2016 represent a twofold increase from the total number of deaths in 2013.

"We need an 'all hands on deck' approach to this crisis, from law enforcement and doctors to treatment providers and insurers," Mr. Shapiro said. "While much more needs to be done, I'm grateful to Independence Blue Cross for convening today's meeting and for their work supporting opioid abuse prevention, research and treatment."

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