Cigna Encourages Medical Practices To Sign Opioid Pledge

In keeping with its commitment to lower its customers' opioid use by 25 percent within three years, Cigna (NYSE: CI) is asking medical practices to join the effort by signing a pledge to reduce opioid prescribing and to treat opioid use disorder as a chronic condition.

Initially, the company is asking the large medical groups that participate in its Cigna Collaborative Care arrangements to adopt the Cigna pledge, which dovetails with the U.S. Surgeon General's "Turn the Tide" pledge and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's (CDC) opioid prescribing guidelines.

The 160 Cigna Collaborative Care medical groups, which collectively encompass more than 82,000 doctors, will also be asked to commit to taking a specific action to reduce opioid use while improving pain management and substance use treatment where appropriate. Progress will be tracked as part of the quarterly reviews that play an important role in Cigna Collaborative Care arrangements.

"Improving the quality of care and delivering better health outcomes for our customers are at the core of Cigna Collaborative Care. Adopting this pledge is an opportunity to shine a light on one of the biggest crises we face in health care today and enables us to work collaboratively with our clinical partners to find effective solutions," said Dick Salmon, M.D., Cigna's vice president and national medical executive for performance measurement and improvement.

"It's not enough to just sign the pledge," Salmon added. "We're counting on these groups to commit to taking specific actions and we will discuss results as part of our ongoing quality reviews."

The following medical groups have agreed to sign the Cigna opioid pledge and have committed to undertaking a specific quality initiative to implement it:
  • Cigna Medical Group; Phoenix
  • New West Physicians; Denver
  • Northwestern Medicine Physician Partners; Chicago
  • Presence Health Partners; Chicago
  • Privia Medical Group; Arlington, Va.
  • Texas Children's Pediatrics; Houston
  • Wellmont Medical Associates; Kingsport, Tenn.

Salmon said he hopes that the actions of these early adopters will encourage other Cigna Collaborative Care medical groups to commit to the pledge. The goal is to have most of them signed up by the end of the year with the remaining commitments coming in early 2017. Cigna also plans to roll out the pledge more broadly next year to other doctors that participate in its networks.

Cigna's pledge asks medical groups to:

  • Encourage individual doctors within the group to care for their patients consistent with the Surgeon General's "Turn the Tide" pledge. This includes commitments to: learn alternative ways to treat pain safely and effectively; screen patients for opioid use disorder; provide or connect patients to evidence-based treatment; and talk about and treat substance use disorder as a chronic illness, not a moral failing.
  • Take steps to improve the quality and coordination of care for patients being treated with opioids.
  • Reduce opioid prescriptions by prescribing alternative therapies when they are available.

Cigna will support medical groups that make this commitment by establishing a public database of opioid quality improvement initiatives that will be a resource for groups evaluating their next steps in improving patient care.

"The resources we share with our provider partners will benefit all of their patients, not just those who are Cigna customers," Salmon said. "Cigna is committed to reducing the burden of substance use disorders for all Americans."

At the same time, Cigna is also expanding its support of physicians who treat Cigna customers. Using its claims data and analytics, Cigna will alert these doctors when their opioid prescribing patterns are not consistent with CDC guidelines. The company will also provide resources to physicians so they can improve care for patients taking opioids for long periods of time, including referrals into chronic pain management or substance use disorder treatment programs.

"The misuse of opioids is taking a terrible toll on our country. We simply must find solutions, but that's not something that any one of us can do alone," Salmon said. "Through this pledge we invite medical groups to join us and participate actively with us. By working together, we hope to identify specific actions that can break this national epidemic."

About Cigna

Cigna Corporation (NYSE: CI) is a global health service company dedicated to helping people improve their health, well-being and sense of security. All products and services are provided exclusively by or through operating subsidiaries of Cigna Corporation, including Connecticut General Life Insurance Company, Cigna Health and Life Insurance Company, Life Insurance Company of North America and Cigna Life Insurance Company of New York. Such products and services include an integrated suite of health services, such as medical, dental, behavioral health, pharmacy, vision, supplemental benefits, and other related products including group life, accident and disability insurance. Cigna maintains sales capability in 30 countries and jurisdictions, and has more than 90 million customer relationships throughout the world. To learn more about Cigna®, including links to follow us on Facebook or Twitter, visit www.cigna.com.

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