KHC Highlights Work at the Rx Drug Abuse & Heroin Summit

For the past couple of years, Kentucky employers have come together to not only address the opioid crisis within their own population but at a broader community level through the Kentuckiana Health Collaborative, and we had the opportunity to highlight that work last week at the Rx Drug Abuse & Heroin Summit. The summit brings together stakeholders to discuss what’s working in prevention and treatment each year.

Dr. Kelly Clark, Dr. Diana Han, and I presented “Employers Respond: Kentuckiana Health Collaborative’s Evidence-Based Approach to Community Health.” Clark, a national expert on opioid use disorder, played a key role in the development of the KHC’s “Opioids and the Workplace” employer toolkit that was released this month. An addiction psychiatrist and KHC member, Clark is the immediate past president of the American Society of Addiction Medicine and founder of Addiction Crisis Solutions. Han, Global Medical Director for GE Appliances and KHC Co-Chair, has also played an integral role with her team in providing boots-on-the-ground feedback for the newly released toolkit.

Clark kicked off the session by explaining the differences between opioid use, misuse, dependence, and disorder and the current evidenced-based guidelines for opioid use disorder treatment. Han then discussed how the opioid epidemic is impacting Kentucky’s businesses and the significant commitment employers are making to identify strategies to better ensure employees and family members are being supported through prevention, treatment, and recovery. Finally, I presented how employers are coming together to find and share opioid-related best practices and how the coalition has prioritized opioid-related initiatives into all four pillars of its work:


Healthcare Measurement: Improving quality and value of care through measurement, alignment, and transparency

Selection of two opioid stewardship measures into the Kentucky Core Healthcare Measures Set

Service on the National Quality Forum’s Opioid Stewardship Committee


Community Health: Improving health and wellbeing

Development and distribution of the Screening, Brief Intervention, and Referral to Treatment guide to 4,000+ Kentucky providers

Partnership with Student Alliance for Mental Health Innovation and Action (StAMINA) to improve youth mental health


Employer and Healthcare Purchaser Network: Engaging employers to drive the Triple Aim goals

Creation and distribution of “Opioids and the Workplace” toolkit

Communication of relevant information in newsletter and action briefs


Education: Catalyzing transformation of healthcare through education, communication, and collaboration

Convening of an employer focus group on the impact and needs around opioid use disorder in the workplace

Hosting of an employer roundtable sharing opioid-related benefits and policy best practices

Hosting of two annual conferences with specific sessions around opioid use disorder


As part of my presentation, I spent a good deal of time focused on the “Opioids and the Workplace” toolkit that was developed through the KHC’s worksite addiction committee, a cross section of employers and opioid use disorder experts. The Kentucky Opioid Response Effort (KORE), which funded the development of the toolkit, has been very visionary about how employers can be key partners in the prevention, treatment, and recovery of opioid use disorder. One of the goals of our session was to help other communities engage the business community in their opioid-related efforts.

The “Opioid and the Workplace” toolkit was released this month with an employer roundtable. The KHC’s opioid toolkit has received excellent reviews and will be distributed more widely in the coming months at the Kentucky Chamber’s opioid summit and the Kennedy Forum Annual Meeting in Chicago this summer. If you would like to learn more about the toolkit, be sure to sign up for our webinar on May 15. The webinar will feature Natalie Middaugh, KHC Community Health Program Manager, who led the development of the toolkit.

The Rx Drug Abuse & Heroin Summit has Kentucky roots and began in 2012 under the leadership of Operation UNITE and U.S. Rep. Harold “Hal” Rogers (KY-5th). Notable speakers in past years have included President Barack Obama in 2016, Congressmen Patrick Kennedy and Newt Gingrich in 2017, former President Bill Clinton and Counselor to the President Kellyanne Conway in 2018. This year, President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump addressed attendees. Unfortunately, I didn’t get to rub elbows with any of the notable speakers, but I did make a commitment to put this event on the KHC’s list of conferences to attend next year.