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Comp insurer credits predictive modeling for reduction in opioid use

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The Travelers Companies Inc. has spent the past two years attempting to curb opioid abuse by gauging the likelihood that an injured worker would become hooked — and it helped reduce opioid use in claims by 30% among 500,000 claimants in the United States, the company reported Wednesday.

The Hartford, Connecticut-based company’s Early Severity Predictor model identifies the likelihood that someone will develop chronic pain, a leading cause of opioid dependency, according to a statement.

Travelers shares the data gathered from questionnaires with the injured employee’s doctor, allowing them to identify effective treatment alternatives, such as physical therapy. In some cases, surgery is avoided to help ensure a safe recovery without the prolonged use of opioids, the company reported. 

Since January 2016, surgeries for the company’s workers compensation cases have fallen by 25%, and those who received alternative treatment methods recovered and returned to work 10% faster than those who did not, according to the statement.

“Surgical procedures used to correct common workplace injuries are oftentimes followed by an opioid prescription for pain,” said Dr. Adam Seidner, addiction specialist and Global Medical Director at Travelers, in a statement. “Physical therapy and other treatments limit the employee’s exposure to opioids and often produce better long-term medical outcomes.”