Regence reduces opioids prescriptions by 22% through point-of-sale alerts, direct provider outreach and strengthened policies

By Regence
February 05, 2018

Update: Read more about how Regence is advocating for our members in the Portland Business Journal article: “How Regence reduced opioid prescriptions by 22%”.

Regence health plans have reduced opioid prescriptions by 22 percent across the four-state region of Oregon, Washington, Idaho and Utah since 2015. This represents significant progress toward Regence’s goal of reducing these prescriptions 25 percent by 2020 – putting the company on pace to reach its goal two years ahead of schedule with expanded policies and practices that took effect Jan. 1, 2018.

The goal is just one piece of a comprehensive opioid management program Regence is building, aimed at decreasing opioid misuse while supporting appropriate use for people who can benefit from treatment.

“The opioid epidemic is a public health crisis that affects millions of Americans,” said Dr. Richard Popiel, executive vice president and chief medical officer at Regence. “We’re taking a stand to support our communities and the members we serve.”

Regence’s four-state market has seen a significant impact from the opioid epidemic:

  • Oregon has one of the nation’s highest rates of opioid misuse and more drug poisoning deaths involving prescription opioids than any other drug. On average, three Oregonians die every week from prescription opioid overdose, according to the Oregon Health Authority.
  • In Idaho, more than 200 people die each year from prescription drug overdose, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
  • Utah has the seventh-highest overdose rate in the United States, according to the Utah Department of Health.
  • The majority of all drug overdose deaths in Washington – more than six out of 10 – involve opioids, the Washington State Department of Health reports.

Regence initiatives to combat opioid misuse include:

  • Pharmacy point-of-sale messaging that alerts pharmacists of potential for inappropriate use or misuse
  • Claims data analysis shared with doctors that reveals opportunities for more informed clinical decisions that result in better outcomes
  • Partnership with provider groups to share opioid use data and encourage responsible prescribing practices
  • Strong medication polices aligned with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommendations
  • Expanded online provider opioid and pain management toolkit
  • Partnerships with public officials and community organizations to create awareness about opioid use develop community-based solutions
  • Proposed legislative action to combat prescription drug abuse, nationally and in the Pacific Northwest and Intermountain regions 
  • Promotion of educational and awareness campaigns focusing on the opioid epidemic, such as the PBS opioid documentary, “Understanding the Opioid Epidemic,” financed in part by the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association, which began airing Jan. 17 nationwide

Regence continues to evaluate its programs and initiatives to support the access to high-quality, high-value treatment for our members.

“We are ensuring members who can benefit from opioid treatment get the care they need,” Popiel said, “while strengthening our medication policies to reduce opioid misuse, and supporting our members who need addiction treatment.”