I've gotten a few emails from one of our clinic physicians to begin discussing and planning an established pain management program. We are first looking at some of the tools within our EMR to see what function exists for communication and tracking the care of some of our more complicated patients.
I know the need for a pain management program exists. There are too many patients with significant pain issues who end up seeing multiple providers, getting mixed messages and different care provided that can prolong their healing timeline. New programs and initiatives can also be met with some resistance -- providers fear that the added steps and coordination may delay care or complicate relatively simple cases.
To address these concerns as we are in the infancy stages of a pain management group, I'm starting to research the components to an effective program. From the little reading I've done so far, it appears the focus should be on having attainable goals with consistent communication to reduce fragmentation of care. Most programs seem to incorporate medication management, graded physical activity and cognitive training as the major components.
The benefits of pain programs seem to be similar -- reduce a patient's pain and reliance on pain medications, decrease the use of medical resources and return to work and full functional ADLs. I read one article that highlighted the indirect outcome of cost reduction after implementing a pain program -- this kind of data is useful to give quantitative information in addition to other anticipated benefits.
These parts of the program don't address everything (such as the physiological differences of chronic pain patterns compared to acute injuries), but I think it's a good place to start. What about you? Does your physical therapy clinic offer pain management coordination with other providers? What is the most important part of a successful pain management program?