The Hartford, Yale expands training for medical providers on addiction, pain and stigma

The Hartford, Yale expands training for medical providers on addiction, pain and stigma

HARTFORD – Insurance giant The Hartford has announced it is extending a partnership with the Yale School of Medicine that aims to help tackle the opioid crisis by offering newly developed training in addiction, pain management and stigma to medical providers who treat injured workers.

An “unrestricted donation” of $200,000 this year to Yale Medicine of The Hartford, which is one of the nation’s largest providers of workers’ compensation and disability insurance, will support the delivery of training to more health professionals. The new allocation complements a $150,000 donation The Hartford announced last year to support the initiative’s pilot project, the results of which have been hailed by company and Yale Medicine officials.

“We have learned and we will continue to learn as we think about how we want to expand this to other parts of the state and the country,” Hartford CEO and President Christopher Swift said in an interview. .

Dr. David Fiellin and Dr. Jeanette Tetrault led the Yale Program in Addiction Medicine team that developed the new curriculum, which strives to help clinicians better understand opioids and work-related injuries, to identify and treat acute and chronic pain and to assess disorders involving the use of opioids. and other substances in injured workers.

Supported by the new program, the Yale PAM team hosted an in-depth virtual training session in June for 25 clinicians, most of whom are based in Connecticut. Clinician learning was demonstrated by achieving an average of 88% on post-training evaluations.
Over the coming year, the Yale PAM team plans to refine and update the program based on feedback from pilot participants, conduct additional virtual and in-person training sessions, and develop resources. of “training the trainers” so that more instructors can deliver the training. .

Opportunities to participate in future sessions will be shared through the Yale PAM website,, and Twitter account, @YaleADM.

“We have been very fortunate to have a partner at The Hartford who recognizes the work we do in the Yale Program in Addiction Medicine and the applicability of that work to such a mundane setting as the work environment. work,” Fiellin, who is director of the addiction medicine program, said in an interview. “The true purpose of the addiction medicine program is to help ensure that there is no ‘wrong door’ – that wherever someone needs help with a risk of addiction or treatment of pain or a substance use disorder, the systems are in place. place to recognize and adequately treat or refer where appropriate.

Hartford’s Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Adam Seidner, served as a consultant to the Yale PAM team to help ensure the program focuses on improving workers’ ability to do their jobs, preventing development of chronic pain through the appropriate management of acute pain and enabling a safe return to work after an accident at work.

Helping injured workers is a major concern for The Hartford given the size of its workers’ compensation portfolio. In 2021, the No. 160 company on this year’s Fortune 500 list recorded about $3.3 billion in workers’ compensation premiums, according to data from S&P Global Market Intelligence. Its market share of about 6% ranked second, after Travelers, among insurers providing workers’ compensation in the United States.

In addition to the partnership between Hartford and the Yale School of Medicine, many other initiatives across the country have provided healthcare providers with a better understanding of patients’ risk for addiction when taking prescription opioids. Reflecting these efforts, opioid prescription rates have declined significantly in recent years.

“One of the things we’ve been trying to do with this educational course is to make sure that clinicians are aware of pharmacological and non-pharmacological interventions that are, quite frankly, as effective, if not more effective, than opioids,” Fieldin said. “That’s not to say there aren’t indications for opioids – and there are certainly patients who clearly benefit from them. But like many other medical interventions, it’s often a trial with early assessment and ensuring that the benefits outweigh the risks.

New advances in pain management and addiction treatment are needed as the opioid epidemic continues to wreak devastating havoc in Connecticut and the rest of the country. Nationally, overdose deaths involving opioids rose 15% year over year, to an estimated total of nearly 81,000 in 2021, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. . In Connecticut, there were 1,413 accidental poisoning deaths involving opioids in 2021, up 11% from 2020, according to the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner.

“The problem isn’t getting any easier and has likely been exacerbated as a result of the COVID crisis,” Swift said. “But you can’t not do something, and I think that’s our philosophy. I think every little bit counts. »

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