May 2, 2019

Joining a national effort to fight addiction crisis

Kaiser Permanente now part of the National Academy of Medicine’s Action Collaborative on Countering the U.S. Opioid Epidemic.

Contact: Marc Brown

OAKLAND, Calif — Kaiser Permanente has joined the National Academy of Medicine Action Collaborative on Countering the U.S. Opioid Epidemic. This public-private partnership includes more than 100 health care, government, community, academic and other network organizations committed to working together to uncover and advance solutions to the opioid crisis.

Kaiser Permanente has been actively addressing the opioid crisis using a comprehensive approach that encompasses clinician education and support, community protection, patient education and safety, and innovative tools. From 2011 to 2017, Kaiser Permanente has seen a 40% reduction in overall morphine milligram equivalents prescribed across its eight regions nationwide.

“Kaiser Permanente’s integrated model enables us to implement a broad range of best practices to address the opioid crisis,” said Patrick Courneya, MD, executive vice president and chief medical officer for Kaiser Foundation Health Plan and Hospitals Quality at Kaiser Permanente. “Physicians, pharmacists, nurses, mental health and addiction medicine specialists all work together to deliver a coordinated and comprehensive approach to pain management, addiction and recovery.” 

“It is incumbent on physicians to address the opioid crisis both in the rescue phase and in the prevention phase,” said Imelda Dacones, MD, president and CEO of Northwest Permanente. The Permanente Medical Groups provide care for Kaiser Permanente members exclusively. “Permanente physicians and clinicians are committed to safe opioid prescribing and using non-opioid therapies, when appropriate, to serve and protect our patients and communities.”

Connected teams, supported by technology, coordinate across specialties and care sites to deliver on Kaiser Permanente’s four-pronged approach to opioid safety. That approach includes physician education, community protection, patient safety and patient education. As part of its person-centered approach to care, Kaiser Permanente leverages telehealth, pain communication, physician leadership and innovation to support patients holistically. In its commitment statement, Kaiser Permanente has put forward several recommendations to help solve the opioid epidemic responsibly. Kaiser Permanente suggests clinicians:

  • Avoid new patient dependence on opioids through safe and appropriate prescribing.
  • Discuss risk versus benefits of opioids and the expectation of opioid therapy.
  • Avoid polypharmacy with opioids.
  • Help people on high doses of opioids to taper safely while offering support and a personalized care plan.
  • Screen for the presence of risk factors, such as alcohol dependence or presence of children.

“We are acutely aware of problematic prescribing patterns, such as dangerous drug combinations and escalating opioid doses,” said Stephen Tarnoff, MD, president and executive medical director, Washington Permanente Medical Group.

Kaiser Permanente looks forward to participating in this Collaborative and joining its partners in developing, sharing and spreading best practices to help solve the national opioid crisis.

About Kaiser Permanente

Kaiser Permanente is committed to helping shape the future of health care. We are recognized as one of America’s leading health care providers and not-for-profit health plans. Founded in 1945, Kaiser Permanente has a mission to provide high-quality, affordable health care services and to improve the health of our members and the communities we serve. We currently serve more than 12.2 million members in 8 states and the District of Columbia. Care for members and patients is focused on their total health and guided by their personal Permanente Medical Group physicians, specialists and team of caregivers. Our expert and caring medical teams are empowered and supported by industry-leading technology advances and tools for health promotion, disease prevention, state-of-the-art care delivery and world-class chronic disease management. Kaiser Permanente is dedicated to care innovations, clinical research, health education and the support of community health.