New Approach Combines Pain Management with Addiction Treatment
With millions of people across the country at risk for opioid addiction due to their pain medications, some health providers are trying new approaches for pain relief and pain management.
As reported in the Washington Post, companies like Kaiser Permanente have created special programs that help at risk patients manage their pain and their medications. For example, an eight-week course, available to Kaiser Permanente members in Colorado for $100 is designed to educate high-risk opioid patients about pain management.
A recent class met at Kaiser’s Rock Creek medical offices in Lafayette, Colo., a town east of Boulder. Will Gersch, a clinical pharmacy specialist, taught several patients learning to battle addiction the science behind prescription drugs.
“So, basically the overarching message here is the higher the dose of the opioids, the higher the risk,” he told the group, as he jotted numbers on a whiteboard. “If you’re over these two doses, that’s a risk factor.”
The key aspect of these type of programs is that they integrate patient care across several medical specialties, so that patients have additional options for dealing with their pain rather than just popping more opioid-based pills.
For patient care, there’s a doctor, a clinical pharmacist, two mental health therapists, a physical therapist and a nurse — all on one floor. Patients can meet with this team, either all at once or in groups, but they do not have to deal with a series of referrals and appointments in different facilities.
A spokesperson for Kaiser Permanente said researchers tracked more than 80 patients over the course of a year and found the group’s emergency room visits decreased 25 percent. Inpatient admissions dropped 40 percent, and patients’ opioid use went way down.
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To learn more about how integrated care is helping to lower opioid dependence and improve pain management, please visit the Washington Post.