As we transition into 2016, many of your patients are likely attempting to adhere to their New Year’s resolutions. Smoking cessation is a common resolution that is as difficult to uphold as it is beneficial to one’s overall health, but there is an abundance of resources available for physicians to share with their patients to guide them in their goal to quit smoking.
Early action in the primary care setting
The primary care physician is often fundamental in the development of a personalized smoking cessation plan, which can vastly improve a patient’s health and both quality and length of life. The treatment plan is different for each smoker, beginning with probing questions related to tobacco consumption and an assessment of the patient’s willingness to quit.
Early and persistent encouragement by health professionals and follow-up during subsequent visits can be the difference between an abandoned resolution and a lifelong improvement of a patient’s health through permanent smoking cessation. Depending on the patient, an effective treatment plan may include prescribing appropriate nicotine replacement therapy (e.g., nicotine patch, nicotine inhaler, nicotine lozenge), referral to behavioral health practitioners, and more.
Smoking cessation resources
There are many resources available for you to share with your patients who smoke and have expressed an interest in quitting. Harvard Pilgrim recommends referring such patients to smokefree.gov, a multifaceted smoking cessation resource operated by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. For free telephone or online counseling services, quit tips, and more, your patients can call 800-QUIT-NOW (784-8669).
Another excellent website for Massachusetts providers is QuitWorks.com. QuitWorks is a free, evidence-based stop-smoking service developed by the Massachusetts Department of Public Health in collaboration with health plans in the state, including Harvard Pilgrim. The program is designed to conveniently aid providers in their efforts to help their patients stop smoking. You can use the QuitWorks website to refer your patients for appropriate care by FAX, secure email, or e-referral. Through the QuitWorks program, you will also receive information regarding your patient’s quit status.
You can also find several useful links to various government-sponsored programs and other organizations in the “Smoking Cessation” section on page 19 of this resource guide.
How Optum/UBH can help your patients — For complex clinical situations, Optum/UBH is available to provide consultative assistance. Practitioners can call the Optum/UBH Physicians Consultation Service at
800-292-2922. To refer a patient for behavioral health services and to facilitate the coordination of care, call Optum at 888-777-4742.