March 26, 2023

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The Hartford’s headquarters building at One Hartford Plaza, center, is seen from Bushnell Park in downtown Hartford, Conn. A partnership between The Hartford and Yale School of Medicine that was launched last year aims to improve pain management and addiction treatment for injured workers.
The Hartford CEO and Chairman Christopher Swift.
Dr. David Fiellin is director of the Yale Program in Addiction Medicine.
HARTFORD – Insurance giant The Hartford has announced that it is extending a partnership with Yale School of Medicine that aims to help tackle the opioid crisis by providing newly developed training on addiction, pain management and stigma to medical providers who treat injured workers.  
A $200,000 “unrestricted gift” this year to Yale Medicine from The Hartford, which is one of the country’s largest providers of workers’ compensation and disability insurance, will support the delivery of the training to more medical professionals. The new allocation supplements a $150,000 donation that The Hartford announced last year in support of the initiative’s pilot, whose results have been lauded by officials at the company and Yale Medicine.
“We have learned and we will continue to learn as we think about how we want to expand this to other parts of the state and the country,” The Hartford Chief Executive Officer and Chairman Christopher Swift said in an interview.
Dr. David Fiellin and Dr. Jeanette Tetrault led the Yale Program in Addiction Medicine team that developed the new curriculum, which strives to help clinicians better understand opioids and work-related injuries, identify and treat acute and chronic pain and assess disorders involving opioid use and other substances among injured workers.
Supported by the new curriculum, the Yale PAM team conducted in June an in-depth virtual training session for 25 clinicians, most of whom are based in Connecticut. The clinicians’ learning was highlighted in them scoring an average of 88 percent on post-training assessments.
In the coming year, the Yale PAM team plans to refine and update the curriculum based on pilot participants’ feedback, conduct additional virtual and in-person training sessions and develop “train-the-trainer” resources so that more instructors can conduct the training.
Opportunities to participate in future sessions will be shared through the Yale PAM website,, and Twitter account, @YaleADM.     
“We’ve been really lucky to have a partner in The Hartford who recognizes the work that we do in the Yale Program in Addiction Medicine, and the applicability of that work to such a sort of commonplace setting such as the work environment,” Fiellin, who is director of the Program in Addiction Medicine, said in an interview. “What the work of the Program in Addiction Medicine is really about is helping to make sure that there’s no ‘wrong door’ – that wherever somebody needs help with risk for addiction or treatment of pain or a substance-use disorder, that systems are in place to either adequately recognize and treat or make a referral when appropriate.”
The Hartford’s chief medical officer, Dr. Adam Seidner, served as a consultant to the Yale PAM team to help ensure the curriculum focuses on improving workers’ ability to do their job, preventing chronic-pain development through the appropriate management of acute pain and enabling a safe return to work following a workplace injury.
Helping injured workers is a key concern for The Hartford given the size of its workers’ compensation portfolio. In 2021, the No. 160 firm on this year’s Fortune 500 list recorded about $3.3 billion in workers’ compensation premiums, according to data from S&P Global Market Intelligence. Its market share of about 6 percent ranked No. 2, after Travelers, among insurers issuing workers’ compensation in the U.S.

In addition to the partnership between The Hartford and Yale School of Medicine, numerous other initiatives across the country have increased health care providers’ understanding of patients’ risk of addiction when taking prescription opioids. Reflecting those efforts, opioid prescribing rates have fallen significantly in the past few years.
“One of the things we’ve been striving to do with this educational course is make sure that clinicians are aware of both pharmacologic and non-pharmacologic interventions that are, quite frankly, as effective, if not more effective, than opioids,” Fiellin said. “It’s not to say there aren’t indications for opioids — and there are certainly patients who clearly benefit. But like many other medical interventions, it’s often a trial with early assessment and making sure the benefits outweigh the risks.”
Further advances in pain management and addiction treatment are needed as the opioid epidemic continues to inflict a devastating toll in Connecticut and the rest of the country.  Nationwide, overdose deaths involving opioids increased 15 percent year-over-year, to an estimated total of nearly 81,000 in 2021, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In Connecticut, there were 1,413 accidental-intoxication deaths involving opioids in 2021, up 11 percent from 2020, according to the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner

“The problem isn’t getting easier and probably has been exacerbated coming out of the COVID crisis,” Swift said. “But you cannot not do something, and I think that’s been our philosophy. I think every little bit helps.” 
Paul Schott is a business reporter at Hearst Connecticut Media, writing about the issues affecting small- and medium-sized businesses and large corporations based in southwestern Connecticut, with a focus on Stamford and Greenwich. He previously covered education for Greenwich Time and general assignments for the Westport News. Paul welcomes readers’ ideas and suggestions and strives to cultivate a robust dialogue with Hearst Connecticut Media’s audience.


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