It's a topic many employers have avoided or feared to address with their employees. It also happens to be one of America's foremost health crises: the opioid epidemic.
Every day the conversation is avoided is another day that 100 people in the United States lose the battle to prescription opioid overdose according to Blue Cross and Blue Shield's Health of America Report External Site.
Keep your employees happy, healthy and safe by creating an open dialogue in the workplace, even with tough issues like these.
Did you know?
Wellmark in conjunction with CVS/caremarkTM is strengthening the Utilization Management (UM) program to encourage appropriate opioid use and greater pharmacist counseling for your employee who may be filling out an opioid prescription for the first time.
More than a break room conversation
Addressing the opioid epidemic isn't meant for discussing the latest news story coverage at the water cooler.
Nix the small talk by the water cooler and begin taking a proactive role in educating and informing your employees through; lunch and learns, intranet articles, all-employee meetings, or 1:1 consultations. By doing so, you can:
- Educate your employees about the epidemic — what it is — what it looks like — and how it could affect your employees or their loved ones.
- Provide an understanding if an employee goes into a surgery that prescribes an opioid for pain management post-op.
- Support and assist with an employee who may be going through addiction.
Take action: Stop before it starts
Now that you know the importance of having these conversations with your employees, consider these five tips from the National Safety Council on being proactive and stopping the issue before it can even begin.
Re-evaluate your organizations drug-free workplace policy and drug-testing
Review your company's drug and substance policy — is it current? If not, time to make some changes! Check out this drug-free workplace kit External Site from Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) to guide your policy change discussions.
Check in with your workers compensation program
The National Council on Compensation Insurance estimates that prescription drugs account for about 25 percent of workers' compensation medical costs. Read this brochure from the National Safety Council (NSC) on how prescription opioids may be affecting your workers compensation program External Site.
Education is key
Gather the information you need to conduct meaningful conversations with your employees. Start with these helpful articles from BlueSM:
- You're prescribed an opioid. Now what? Opens in a new window How your employees can stay safe and informed.
- Unused drugs cluttering your cabinet? Opens in a new window Tips for your employees to get rid of drugs safely especially if they were using opioids.
- Live healthy with a personal doctor. Opens in a new window Assisting your employees with the importance of developing a relationship with your personal doctor and the impact on your health.
Everyone from manager, leader to a C-Suite-level executive needs to be versed in workplace policy surrounding drug use, and potential signs of impairment. It doesn't stop at the top though — these conversations need to continue at the individual and/or team level.
Provide an employee assistance program
Improve your company's bottom line by providing what 70 percent of all U.S. companies and 90 percent of all Fortune 500 companies use to support their employees. An employee assistance program is a great way to provide confidential support and treatment to any of your employees who are needing the help.
Here to help
In addition to updating the utilization management (UM) program to help with appropriate opioid usage and pharmacist consultation, Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association plans to launch it's Blue Distinction Centers® for Substance Use Treatment and Recovery in January 2020.
Suggesting Blue Distinction Centers for Substance Use Treatment and Recovery
Find reliable support for your employee(s) who are suffering from an opioid use disorder, BCBSA will launch Blue Distinction Centers for Substance Use Treatment and Recovery to ensure members have access to the best clinical thinking and evidenced-based approaches in dealing with long-term issues associated with opioid-use disorder. In addition, BCBSA is establishing a national hotline to connect those in need with treatment centers. The hotline will be available to each of your employees.
About Blue Distinction CentersBlue Distinction Centers (BDC) met overall quality measures, developed with input from the medical community. A Local Blue Plan may require additional criteria for providers located in its own service area; for details, contact your Local Blue Plan. Blue Distinction Centers+ (BDC+) also met cost measures that address consumers' need for affordable healthcare. Each provider's cost of care is evaluated using data from its Local Blue Plan. Providers in CA, ID, NY, PA, and WA may lie in two Local Blue Plans' areas, resulting in two evaluations for cost of care; and their own Local Blue Plans decide whether one or both cost of care evaluation(s) must meet BDC+ national criteria. National criteria for BDC and BDC+ are displayed on www.bcbs.com. Individual outcomes may vary. For details on a provider's in-network status or your own policy's coverage, contact your Local Blue Plan and ask your provider before making an appointment. Neither Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association nor any Blue Plans are responsible for non-covered charges or other losses or damages resulting from Blue Distinction or other provider finder information or care received from Blue Distinction or other providers.
About Blue Cross Blue Shield AssociationThe Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association is a national federation of 36 independent, community-based and locally operated Blue Cross and Blue Shield companies that collectively provide health care coverage for one in three Americans.