The health insurance company Cigna is teaming up with the American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM) to study which substance abuse treatments are effective, Forbes reports.
The company will provide two years of medical claims data to ASAM, who will work with health researchers at Brandeis University to test and validate which treatments are working. All patient names have been removed to ensure confidentiality.
The results could be used to develop guidelines for Cigna and other health insurers to establish protocols for doctors and other mental health providers, the article notes.
“When it comes to substance abuse, there are not clear guidelines,” said Dr. William Lopez, Cigna’s Senior Medical Director for Behavioral Health. “Our position is that we want to individualize the treatments and by having some guidelines that are more holistic, we will attain that goal. We want to move from volume to value.”
He explained researchers hope that analyzing medical claims will allow them to determine which patients may have had re-admissions to hospitals for drug abuse. If patients who are at high risk of relapsing are identified early, insurers and doctors might be able to intervene at an earlier stage, he said.
“We can drill down in the data and develop some predictive models,” Lopez said. “This is a chronic disease and they may struggle with this for years. We can use this data to better manage (their care).”
“This will encourage physicians to make significant improvements in the quality of patient care for the addiction field as well as in the healthcare system as a whole,” Dr. Corey Waller, Chair of ASAM’s Performance Measures Expert Panel and Legislative Advocacy Committee, said in a statement. “This will encourage physicians to make significant improvements in the quality of patient care for the addiction field as well as in the health care system as a whole.”