Joe Paduda. Twitter @Paduda On a panel discussing opioids, Dr Bogdan Savych of WCRI opened with a review of WCRI’s latest research looking at the link between opioid prescribing and the duration of disability. It is great to see WCRI spend a big chunk of time and research dollars on this – which I believe is the biggest problem in workers’ comp today – and will get worse long before it gets any better.

Couple quick data points…

*One of 10 workers who get opioids are still taking them after 90 days.

*And, between half and 85% of workers (not surgical cases) who had pain medications were still getting scripts for opioids 3 months later

*There’s really significantly different prescribing patterns depending on geography – NOT evidence-based guidelines, severity, injury type, etc – but simply where the patient is treated. (so much for the science of medicine…)

That’s just nuts. (editorial comment). Joe provides a terrific and thorough overview of the WCRI conference presentations on his blog

Linda Van Dillen. Twitter @CompAllianceRN I always enjoy this conference as it is truly focused on learning and provides a great opportunity for networking. One of the topics I was interested in hearing about were the two sessions on opioids. Jane Terry spoke on the National Safety Council’s work within the opioid crisis. In my opinion, the NSC is one of the organizations who has been sounding the alarm and providing alternatives. Jane Terry alluded to one of the concepts that I believe is seminal in preventing this epidemic for the future. That is that the use of ibuprofen and acetaminophen are as effective as opioids for pain relief. One of the reports that has informed me as to this possibility was a report prepared by Dr. Donald Teater titled, “Evidence for the Efficacy of Pain Medications”. In this report the concept of Number Needed to Treat was explained. I wrote a four-part blog article after reviewing this information. Here is a link to Part 1 on my blog “CompTalk”. You will be able to easily connect to each part of this series from this link.

Sandy Shtab. Twitter @shtabber My two big takeaways from the WCRI presentations this week: 1) SAVING LIVES—BUILDING A MODERN PHARMACY PROGRAM AMID A DEADLY EPIDEMIC. The presentation by Dr. Terry Welsh from Ohio provided a great example of what can be accomplished in WC when you have a regulatory infrastructure that supports a comprehensive approach to controlling over utilization. There were a number of states regulators in the room and I’m excited they got to hear about the Ohio approach because so many states are facing a misalignment of priorities from stakeholders. Without broad buy-in from physicians, insurers, labor and other entities, its an uphill battle to make progress in this area. 2) DO MEDICAL MARIJUANA LAWS CAUSE A SHIFT IN PRESCRIPTION DRUG SPENDING? This presentation was really cool. The data shared by Dr. Dave Bradford supported other research I’ve seen around the impact legalization has on drug utilization in Medicare programs. However we don’t yet have corollary data for workers comp. it may be too early considering the topic is still maturing for the workers comp market. I learned recently that NCCI has the ability to collect payment data on medical marijuana from payers but it’s too soon to know how much reporting of that data is actually happening so we can project what the impact is or might be in the future.

Yvonne Guibert. Twitter @ExpertsinWC Having just returned this past Monday from an extended family vacation in Panamá (the country) my brain was well rested, fresh and ready to receive all the great info. I thoroughly enjoyed all the presentations WCRI offered up. I found the theme appropriate: Work and the Comp System: Evolution, Disruption and the Future. I personally have a hard time quickly digesting all the data points presented. It is a lot of numbers and statistics. Good thing I had that vacation to rest my brain. I do find the presentations very informative and helpful to gain a deeper understanding of where we need to focus efforts in the workers comp community, particularly as a professional involved in developing educational sessions and content. An added bonus was the pre-conference Alliance of Women in WC event “Rethinking Pain Management”. The panel discussions and collaborative sessions at these workshops are phenomenal. I participated as a scribe (one of several) for the first time and am anxious to see the outcome of the scribe notes compiled into a white paper from this event. For details on upcoming Alliance of Women in WC events. Many thanks to Kimberly George, Artemis Emslie their crew / helpers and all the sponsors of the Boston / WCRI #AllianceWC18 pre-conference event: Broadspire, NeuroInternational, Alaris Group, Concentra, myMatrixx, Paradigm Outcomes, Mitchell, Sedgwick and Safety National.

You can find other well-known writers / bloggers and their takeaways from WCRI‘s conference this week: Tom Lynch: Workers Comp Insider; Mark Walls: Conference Chronicles; James Moore: Cut Comp Costs Blog; and Liz Carey.