Mitigating opioid impacts on the state workers' comp system
Many stakeholders were unaware of the efforts to reduce the number of opioids in the Arizona workers' compensation system. Opioid use long-term or in high doses can lead to addiction and can delay an injured worker’s ability to return to work.
The Industrial Commission of Arizona’s Medical Resource Office, which annually publishes the Workers' Compensation Fee Schedule, began to track the MRO's outreach efforts through the Arizona Management System.
These outreach efforts include updating stakeholders on the fee schedule and educating stakeholders on the negative effect opioids have in the workers' compensation system. Having never tracked the MRO's outreach efforts, a goal which would be difficult but attainable was set: holding one outreach meeting with stakeholders each month. The MRO office is made up of only two employees. At these meetings, MRO's Jacquie Kurth spoke and took questions for more than an hour and a half (sometimes pushing two hours).
The Industrial Commission of Arizona’s Medical Resource Office’s dedication and work ethic was evident immediately. Within the first three months of this effort, Kurth had already held 11 speaking engagements on opioid education in the workers' compensation system.
Having almost reached the MRO’s yearly goal in only three months, Kurth increased her goal to 25 outreach meetings. With five months left she held an astounding 23 outreach meetings and increased her glide path even further.
Kurth handled this increased workload with the utmost enthusiasm and did not allow her other work to be impacted. Without including her outreach efforts on the Industrial Commission’s performance charts, this amazing work may have gone unnoticed.
"Opioid use long-term or in high doses can lead to addiction and can substantially delay an injured worker’s ability to return to work."