Vizient publishes pain management guide for improved care, lower costs

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A health care solutions and services firm has published a guide to pain management for hospitals that it says will improve services while lowering costs.

Vizient, along with five of its member hospitals, developed the guide to address the needs of 50 million adults suffering from daily chronic pain, as well as to curb the opioid epidemic.

“Despite increased opioid prescribing, CDC data suggests there has not been a reduction in the occurrence of chronic pain, while opioid overdose has become one of the leading causes of death in the U.S,” the company said in its guidelines. “Since about 2010, opioid prescribing has declined as a result of increased awareness, improved decision-making, and increased access to nonopioid treatments, as well as changes in legislation, regulations, and guidelines. However, legislative overreach, misapplication and misinterpretation of guidelines, and the pressure to reduce opioid utilization make the management of chronic pain challenging for both providers and patients. Efficiently and effectively navigating the health care system and accessing an appropriate level of care is critical for patients suffering from chronic pain.”

The guide provides hospitals with a road map to help patients with that pain, the company said, including guidance on assessing target patients, establishing a formal referral program, and assessing available resources.

“Health care providers continually face challenges as they work to address chronic pain management in their communities. The opioid crisis has exacerbated these challenges as both providers and patients seek effective options. Establishing a program that enables an appropriate level of care within local health systems is critical for these patients,” said Jim Lichauer, PharmD, performance improvement program director, pharmacy for Vizient.

The guide also addresses pharmacological, non-pharmacological, and interventional pain management, as well as establishing metrics to measure success systematically.

“The issue of pain management for patients is one that isn’t going to go away. We believe this guide can serve as a road map for improved coordination as well as serve as an opportunity to improve operational performance for health systems,” Lichauer said.

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