WNPR

In Battle Against Opioid Epidemic, Connecticut Insurer Tries Early Intervention

Apr 28, 2016

Physicians, patients, and drug manufacturers are often at the center of discussions about pain and opioid abuse. But what about insurance providers? One Connecticut company said it's found a way to better manage pain, while reducing the number of prescribed opioids. 

When someone gets hurt at work -- Adam Seidner said early intervention is key to managing their pain. "If, early on, we've taken care of that acute pain, which you want to do, you can keep people from going down into a chronic pain spiral," he said. "And, finally, the opioid usage."

Seidner is a doctor with Travelers Insurance. By analyzing five years of workplace injury claims, he helped develop a predictive model he said better treats patients suffering from certain types of pain. It's called the Early Severity Predictor.

The idea, Seidner said, is to more aggressively intervene in certain medical cases -- funneling select patients away from opioids and into things like physical therapy.

Seidner said it's reducing the need for opioids and aiding in patient recovery. "It's good for our clients -- the employers. It's good for the patient because the patient is back to work and productive," he said. "The sooner we can get them back to work they're whole again... and so their quality of life is much improved. It's better than being physically dependent on a narcotic."

Seidner said steering some patients away from opioids is good for Travelers, too. Last year the company applied the Early Severity Predictor to more than 20,000 workplace injury claims.

In some cases, Seidner said it reduced medical costs by up to 50 percent.