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Clinical Analyst Britney Phifer Searches for Solutions to Opioid Epidemic

Britney-Phifer-.jpgA Licensed Clinical Addiction Specialist, Clinical Analyst Britney Phifer said she has learned firsthand the power stigma can have over individuals fighting to survive and recover from opioid addiction. 

That's what drives her passion to educate the communities and stakeholders that Cardinal Innovations serves about the opioid epidemic, to gather research to attempt to resolve the problem and to pursue ways to help reduce harm for those currently struggling with this addiction.

“Reducing the stigma is critical because it is this stigma that can lead to feelings of shame and can discourage open communication about the epidemic, and can even discourage those in need from seeking treatment," Phifer said. “In my previous role working in the direct care capacity, I saw first-hand how this stigma can negatively impact those that have been impacted by addiction." 

Earlier this year, Phifer partnered with the Business Intelligence and Advanced Analytics (BIAA) team to produce analyzed data on rates of overdoses in Cardinal Innovations communities so that certain providers, hospitals and populations could be targeted for intervention and training. She also has facilitated at least four opioid trainings to teach providers, Cardinal Innovations staff and community members about opiates, opioid dependence and treatment options, including Narcan.

“My mission through the facilitation of these trainings in the community was to open communication, reduce the stigma, and empower those in need of treatment to obtain it," Phifer said. 

“Unfortunately, the opioid epidemic is one that has touched so many of us in one way or another – not only in our professional lives, but in some cases, our personal lives. Many of us have a family member, loved one, or friend that has, or is, struggling in one way or another," Phifer said. “One of the fascinating things about data is that it allows us to understand more about what is going on, things we may not see at first. Through examining data, we are able to target our efforts in order to really touch those people in the most need."

The research into Cardinal Innovations' 20 county catchment's overdose rates revealed who was most impacted by the opioid crisis. “Through this data, we were able to identify single and recurrent overdose rates, allowing us to directly support the members and families needing it the most," Phifer said. 

Phifer, who has been with Cardinal Innovations for a little over a year, is the Clinical Analyst for the Care Coordination's quality management team. She came to Cardinal Innovations from McLeod Addictive Center where she worked as a program manager and substance abuse counselor. Phifer is also a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist.

“My unique role of Clinical Analyst enables me to use my training and experience as a clinician, but also be creative with the technology and information we have at our disposal, using data to support our work with members," she said. “With everyone's skill sets coming together collaboratively, we are able to use our talents, skills and passion to serve our members and their families."

Phifer also has participated in a community panel discussion on the opioid epidemic in Rockingham County and lectured at the Opioid Summit in Charlotte, N.C. She has contributed to newspaper articles and volunteered numerous times to help put together Narcan kits for distribution in Cardinal Innovations' communities. 

At the Mecklenburg County Opioid Summit, Phifer gave a presentation that provided an overview of the opioid crisis designed to help families, community members, and providers better understand the opioid crisis, the nature of addictive disease, and learn how to support those that have been impacted.

“Britney is a knowledgeable, passionate and relentless leader in the systematic fight against the opioid epidemic," said Care Coordination Quality Manager Julia Clodfelter, who nominated Phifer to be recognized for her efforts. “(She) has contributed an extensive amount of her time to educating Cardinal Innovations teams, providers, community members and other stakeholders about the opioid epidemic."

Phifer said she always knew her career had to be about helping others. 

“I believe that we can do our best work when skill intersects with passion. I think most clinicians would say that their 'work' began when they were young, with friends and family often coming to them to talk and process through things, feeling like they could really open up with them," she said. “What I love about Cardinal Innovations is that people here share this passion for others – a passion to help others using their skills and abilities. That work may look different from the day to day, whether it is directly in the field, working with data, or connecting members with the services they need, but at the end of the day, we are all working together to support those in need."
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