Study: Using Data, Pharmacy Quality Alliance Measures to Assess the Opioid Crisis


A presentation from the 2020 PQA Annual Meeting examined how employers can engage in improving quality of care for those dependent on opioids.


A study presented at the 2020 Pharmacy Quality Alliance (PQA) Annual Meeting engaged an employer, whose employee was recently involved in a bus accident and was found with opioids, to assess the nature of the opioid crisis through PQA quality measures.

From a live broadcast session, Jaime Jenkins, MBA, PhD, senior program manager of client services at Cotiviti, and Jennifer Ach, PT, MHA, director of clinical metrics and compliance at Cotiviti, presented the study results, which stemmed from claims data.

The investigators worked with employers from Leisure Living, a family-owned passenger travel business. While transporting 62 individuals from Atlanta to Miami, one of their experienced drivers accidentally crashed the vehicle; the driver was killed in the accident and police found opioids amongst the belongings.

Following the accident, Leisure Living sought to understand which of their employees were at highest risk for opioid dependence and abuse. The PQA core measure set was used to identify which of Leisure Living’s employees were opioid dependent. They include:

• Concurrent use of opioids and benzodiazepines
• Use of opioids at high dosage
• Use of opioids from multiple providers
• Use of opioids at high dosage and from multiple providers
• Initial opioid prescribing at high dosage
• Initial opioid prescribing for long-acting or extended-release opioids

Of their 14,000 employees, as well as their spouses and dependents, 5% were found to have a diagnosis of opioid abuse disorder and/or dependence, according to the findings. The study identified that men between the ages of 30 and 59 in the luxury transportation business living in California demonstrated the highest risk for opioid dependence and/or abuse. The study also reported that luxury transporters and maintenance crews amassed a combined 83% of the business’s opioid-dependent employees.

The most frequent conditions being treated by opioids for this population were hypertension, hyperlipidemia, coronary artery disease, and diabetes, according to the study.

Investigators also assessed the financial impact of opioid dependence. Failure to effectively address the issue would inflate costs for members with opioid abuse by 40%, and the study asserted that it is expensive for members to move through abuse, withdrawal, and eventually remission. The forces driving costs for members going through withdrawal include psychiatric treatment, rehabilitation, labs, and observation. 

“As the population for Leisure Living has been identified, the organization can use the PQA opioid core measures set to assist with their analysis and/or interventions to address moving their employees from dependence to remission,” Ach said during the session.


1. Jenkins J, Ach J. The Aftermath: How One Employer is Using Data to Address the Opioid Crisis Among its Employees. Presented at: 2020 Pharmacy Quality Alliance Annual Meeting; May 13-15, 2020.

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