What's happening with interdisciplinary teams?

Author: Elaine S. Date

I think the resources are not there for us to continue to use the interdisciplinary teams as much as we want to. It's difficult for us sometimes to try to get the interdisciplinary pain program authorized, for example, in an industrial medicine setting. There's been many studies that support the use of interdisciplinary teams for pain management to reduce the use of opioids and to improve function. Those are really important factors to help support the upcoming hope of interdisciplinary teams. It is a financial issue, however. We use the interdisciplinary team in the functional restoration programs. It is a multidisciplinary team, but the team members have to work together very closely and the #1 team member, of course, is the patient. Teams usually involve a physician, and oftentimes a nurse practitioner who's very well trained in pain medicine and addiction medicine. We often use addictionologist in our team setting. We also need a physical therapist. We need of course psychology. We need pain psychiatry. We use different types of social worker service. We use what we call movement team members, such as tai chi and yoga instructors, all trained in the specific movement of patients with chronic pain. So together, they can form a team and actually help patients manage pain with nonpharmacologic methods.

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