SCHA Partners with Healthcare Leaders to Address the Opioid Crisis

SCHA, BCBS of SC and SCMA sign agreement for an opioid risk prevention partnership that will advance pain management dialogue

COLUMBIA, S.C.— The South Carolina Hospital Association, BlueCross BlueShield of South Carolina, and the South Carolina Medical Association have joined to form the Opioid Risk Prevention Partnership (ORPP), which is designed to advance the conversation among and between hospitals, physicians and other providers, patients and the general public around the issues of pain and the appropriate use of alternatives to opioids in pain management. 

This 18-month initiative supports and augments Gov. Henry McMaster’s convening of the Opioid Emergency Response Team (OERT) in December to address the burgeoning opioid epidemic in South Carolina. The partnership will focus initially on changing the conversation around pain management and is working toward the goal of reducing the number of opioid prescriptions written annually by South Carolina physicians and other clinicians.

According to Matthew Bartels, M.D., vice president and chief medical officer of BlueCross, the partnership came together because of a desire among the three organizations to collaborate on efforts to support physicians and other medical staff in their conversations with patients, raise awareness and create a common language and contribute to public discussion around pain and pain management.

He said, “Our organizations share a common endpoint: This is an issue that touches the entire community, and in many cases, affected patients are our members. 

“BlueCross believes that as leaders in the health care community, our respective organizations each have an important role to play in communicating forthrightly about the appropriate use of opioids, the very real risk they pose with prolonged use and the alternatives available for pain management. 

“Now, working in partnership, we have the opportunity to align and amplify our messaging. Moreover, we are pleased to join with the work of OERT and ensure that our collective messages to the public are consistent and helpful.”

Thornton Kirby, SCHA president and chief executive officer, said, “We are proud to partner with the provider and physician community to educate South Carolinians on the dangers of opioids and connect them to alternative pain treatments. This alignment of the state’s health care community with the Governor’s Opioid Emergency Response Team signifies the collaborative efforts underway in South Carolina to improve public health and battle the opioid crisis that is negatively impacting our patients and communities.”

According to South Carolina Medical Association President March E. Seabrook, M.D., this collective effort highlights the value of physician education and its important role in the conversation about pain management. 

He said “As the leader of the health care delivery team, physicians play a critical role in the effort to decrease opioid misuse. The South Carolina Medical Association has educated over 12,000 physicians and other health care professionals on the approved procedures for prescribing and monitoring controlled substances.  Through this new partnership we will continue to expand our efforts to address this major public health crisis."

ORPP will work closely with JBS International (JBS) to support the initiative. JBS is a company with more than 30-years of experience working with federal agencies, states and local communities as well as medical professionals and their organizations to address substance use, and specifically, the opioid crisis. JBS works in collaboration with organizations to focus on emerging trends in training medical providers, health systems reform,  public health data exchanges, public health, behavioral health, social science research and information technology services.

About the South Carolina Hospital Association

Founded in 1921, the South Carolina Hospital Association (SCHA) is the leadership organization and principal advocate for the state’s hospitals and healthcare systems. Based in Columbia, SCHA works with its members to improve access, quality, and cost-effectiveness of healthcare for all South Carolinians. The state’s hospitals and healthcare systems employ more than 70,000 persons statewide. Learn more about SCHA at www.scha.org.   

About BlueCross BlueShield of South Carolina

Headquartered in Columbia and operating in South Carolina for more than 70 years, BlueCross BlueShield of South Carolina is an independent licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association. The only South Carolina-owned and operated health insurance carrier, BlueCross BlueShield of South Carolina comprises more than 20 companies involved in health insurance services, U.S. DoD health program and Medicare contracts, other insurance and employee benefits services, and a philanthropic foundation that funds programs to improve health care and access to health care for South Carolinians.  Learn more about BlueCross BlueShield of South Carolina at www.SouthCarolinaBlues.com.

About the South Carolina Medical Association

Founded in 1848, the SCMA is comprised of nearly 6,000 physicians and is the voice of the medical profession in South Carolina. Its purpose is to support the efforts of South Carolina physicians and to advocate for quality medical care and good health for the citizens of South Carolina.