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HomeCategoriesPopulation Health Spotlight - March 2018

Population Health Spotlight - March 2018


Opioid Crisis at a Glance

Opioid abuse is now claiming more than four lives every hour in the U.S. This represents a dramatic increase in deaths related to opioids in just a few years—much of the increase attributable to heroin and synthetic opioids like fentanyl. NIHCM Foundation’s new infographic gives an at-a-glance view of the latest data on the scale of this crisis.


The Opioid Crisis: Treating Addiction and Saving Lives — Upcoming Webinar on March 19

An estimated 2.1 million Americans have an opioid use disorder, according to the latest national data. Part two of our opioid webinar series will explore ways to expand the use of evidence-based treatments and begin to reduce the toll of the opioid crisis. Register now.

The Opioid Crisis: Understanding Pain and Preventing Opioid Misuse

Part one of our opioid webinar series explored strategies to help patients manage pain while minimizing the danger of opioid misuse. Speakers discussed a community-based campaign to reduce access to unused prescription drugs, collaborations to improve adherence to prescribing guidelines for acute and chronic pain, the latest research on alternative pain management treatments, including virtual reality, and more. Watch the recording.

Outgunned: America's Public Health Crisis - Upcoming Webinar

USC Annenberg’s Center for Health Journalism is hosting a webinar on March 13th with support from NIHCM Foundation to explore how looking at gun violence as a public health problem could potentially shift the debate and allow for new ways of addressing the growing crisis. Register here.

Learn more about firearms and public health in a Healthcare Triage YouTube video, supported by a grant from NIHCM Foundation, in which Dr. Aaron Carroll reviews the impact of firearms on suicide in the United States.

“It’s the Prices, Stupid”: How Sky-high Prices Are Crippling Our Health Care System

USC Annenberg’s Center for Health Journalism hosted a webinar with support from NIHCM Foundation to discuss the high cost of health care in America and provided journalists with a toolkit for covering the issue in their communities. Watch the recording.

Research & Analysis

Study Finds Opioid Ingestion in Children Doubled Between 2004 and 2015

A recent study in Pediatrics found that the number of children admitted to an ICU because of opioid ingestion doubled between 2004 and 2015. On our recent webinar on opioid abuse prevention, speakers shared strategies for keeping prescription opioids out of the hands of kids, including the Count It! Lock It! Drop It! program.

Depression Is Most Common Among Women and Low-Income People

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently released a new analysis that shows 1 in 10 U.S. adults has depression, and the rate is almost twice as high for women as it is for men. Depression also rises as income falls: poor Americans are four times more likely to have depression than middle class or rich individuals.

New Analysis Shows the High Economic Cost of Asthma

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently announced that the economic cost of asthma in the U.S. has reached nearly $82 billion a year. This number takes into account medical expenses and costs associated with work and school absences and deaths. The analysis underscores the need to further improve asthma control strategies.

Community Investments

Blue and You Is Improving the Health of Arkansans

Arkansas Blue Cross and Blue Shield’s Blue and You Foundation recently awarded $2,302,347 in grants to 40 programs in Arkansas, including efforts to improve health through walking trails and playgrounds, nutrition programs, and medical trainings. In its 16 years of operation, Blue and You Foundation has awarded a total of over $30 million to 1,139 health improvement programs in Arkansas.

Removing Barriers to Opioid-Reversing Drugs in Pennsylvania

Independence Blue Cross has announced that it is removing member cost-sharing for the opioid-reversing drug naloxone. As pharmacists in Pennsylvania are able to dispense naloxone without a prescription, lowering financial barriers will allow more at-risk patients and their families to keep the life-saving drug on hand.

New Suicide Prevention Initiative for Veterans and Families

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) and the Department of Veterans Affairs recently announced the first eight cities to participate in the Mayor’s Challenge to Prevent Suicide Among Service Members, Veterans, and their Families. These cities will form interagency teams to increase suicide-prevention support for service members, veterans and their families. The eight participating cities are Albuquerque, New Mexico; Billings, Montana; Helena, Montana; Houston, Texas; Las Vegas, Nevada; Los Angeles, California; Phoenix, Arizona; and Richmond, Virginia.

Learn more about suicide prevention efforts for veterans in the documentary ALMOST SUNRISE. A NIHCM Foundation grant is supporting the documentary's public engagement campaign in order to raise awareness of the concept of moral injury and contribute to the reduction of veteran suicides.

Program Updates

A Prescription for Healthy Living

Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts recently launched a new social impact initiative called “Dot Rx” — a healthy living prescription program designed in collaboration with Codman Square Health Center and five local nonprofits. The program’s initial aim is to refer 100 families to meet one-on-one with peer coaches to discuss and set goals around healthy eating, exercise and outdoor activities. The long-term goal is to scale the program and expand healthy living prescription models across Massachusetts.

Fitbits at No Cost for Medicare Advantage Plans

BlueCross BlueShield of South Carolina Medicare Advantage plans provided free Fitbit activity trackers to members enrolling in a 2018 plan. This initiative aims to utilize innovative technology to increase members’ engagement in their care, attain their own health goals and live healthier lifestyles.

Road Safety Tips

A new comprehensive guide for parent on road safety is available on The guide includes resources for all age groups, including information on selecting safe car seats and on hleping teen drivers learn safe driving behaviors.

Getting the Right Help for Opioid Dependence

SAMHSA and Federal Trade Commission have partnered to increase awareness of opioid dependence treatment services and recently released a new fact sheet on accessing treatment options and avoiding fraudulent and ineffective care.

Wellness Programs Designed for Smaller Companies in Massachusetts

Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts has partnered with Virgin Pulse, a leading provider of technology solutions, to introduce the ahealthyme Rewards wellness program. The program helps companies implement successful behavioral change and wellness programs that are tailored to small and medium-sized businesses.


NIHCM Foundation is looking for a health-policy enthusiast to join our productive, collaborative office for a Summer 2018 paid internship. Learn more about the opportunity.