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Addressing Opioids in the Workplace: A Pathway to Saving Jobs and Lives
BOSTON, Aug. 12, 2019 /PRNewswire/ -- Linking employees and their family members with qualified mental health professionals is a critical but often overlooked tool in preventing opioid abuse, according to experts from ConsumerMedical, the medical ally for patients to make informed medical choices.
Addressing employers at the Memphis Business Group on Health meeting August 7, ConsumerMedical speakers noted that helping their employees get immediate access to confidential, professional help can:
- Head off potentially dangerous opioid addictions which were measured by the Kaiser Family Foundation to cost large employers $2.6 billion annually - an eightfold increase in 12 years. On average, opioid abusers cost employers nearly twice as much in medical costs annually than non-abusers, according to the Castlight Health Opioid Crisis study.
- Avoid lost productivity due to opioid abuse and related behavioral health conditions
- Reduce the costs for conditions that will escalate if not treated; currently only one in 10 with substance abuse disorders is receiving treatment, according to the 2016 Surgeon General's report.
- Find the most qualified behavioral health specialists to treat opioid addiction
"Too often, employees start down a course of prescription drugs for physical and mental health issues that leads to addiction, and even death, because of a lack of treatment and oversight by qualified professionals," said Sue Lewis, Chief Product and Strategy Officer, ConsumerMedical. "The antidote to this dangerous situation is prompt identification of symptoms, immediate help to locate a qualified physician or mental health professional, and education on alternatives to prescription drugs, especially when the situation might involve or lead to addiction."
While a ConsumerMedical survey reveals that nearly half of employees responded that they or someone in their family has dealt with a mental health problem in the past year, few know where to go to get assistance. Employees may also delay taking action because they are concerned about privacy and the stigma attached to mental health and opioid addiction. Ninety-five percent of those surveyed said they would benefit from access to experts who could help them find the right practitioners.
To help these individuals and their families, ConsumerMedical leverages a comprehensive database comprised of 98% of all US physicians in the U.S. including the highest quality behavioral health physicians and therapists, based on data about their performance and volume. ConsumerMedical's trained behavioral health professionals and nurses help employees connect with these experienced and qualified resources in their communities and with existing workplace benefits such as EAP programs. These knowledgeable "medical allies" also assist employees and family members with education and information on their condition and on treatment options, including residential centers for addiction.
"The drive in medicine towards evidence-based protocols is just as important in behavioral health," said Lewis. "We are filling this gap in the health care ecosystem with data that identifies high-performing mental health professionals and with the service to help people start treatment quickly, for better results."
Mental health conditions for which this guidance is available include depression, anxiety, grief and loss, bipolar disorders, eating disorders, and substance abuse. Often, parents seek services for their children who may have behavioral issues, or who may have symptoms of autism or ADHD. ConsumerMedical aids these families in finding the right practitioners and even determining how to integrate treatment with the child's school experience.
One/third of patients with chronic or serious illness are likely to also have behavioral health issues, so getting them treatment for these problems is an important part of their recovery and in avoiding unnecessary costs of complications due to lack of compliance.
Lewis also noted that although there are serious shortages of some mental health professionals like child psychiatrists, there are multiple types of other experienced and highly trained practitioners who are available, from licensed professional counselors to clinical social workers to nurse practitioners and clinical nurse specialists.
For more information, contact Consumer Medical at (877) 229-7780.
"Addressing Opioids in the Workplace" was presented by Natalie Fekete, LMHC, PMHNP-BC, ConsumerMedical, and Gaye Fortner, President & CEO, HealthCare 21 Business Coalition, on August 7, 2019 to the Memphis Business Group on Health.
ConsumerMedical is a leading clinical advocacy, decision support and expert second opinion company serving over three million individuals through some of the nation's largest employers, health plans and private exchanges. The company has been serving patients and payers for more than 23 years. As a Medical Ally, ConsumerMedical guides participants throughout their healthcare journey with compassionate, high-touch support and deep clinical expertise. ConsumerMedical offers a fully integrated suite of solutions including Medical Decision Support, Surgery Decision Support, Expert Medical Opinion, Claims Advocacy and more, helping individuals and families navigate the healthcare system while improving outcomes and reducing costs. ConsumerMedical's results have been validated continuously by independent actuaries. www.consumermedical.com
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