| pain policy

Breaking Down the Barriers to Interdisciplinary Pain Care

Better Reimbursement, Greater Availability

Interdisciplinary pain rehabilitation programs (IPRP) have garnered significant support as an alternative to long-term opioid therapy for chronic pain management, and conclusions from new research published last month by the American Pain Society provides further confirmation of the benefits. But the authors also note that access to these programs remains problematic for many patients with pain because of insufficient payor coverage and too few interdisciplinary care providers. APS president William Maixner, DDS, PhD, commented, “Doctors refer patients to specialty pain clinics, usually filled to capacity, so desperation sets in and the next stop could be a dealer on the street. We need more specialty pain clinics, but paltry reimbursements offer no incentives for opening more programs.” The findings were published in the June edition of Journal of Pain.

Mayo clinic researchers tested the hypothesis that patients who were tapered off opioids through treatment in IPRPs would experience significant pain reduction and functional improvement; the findings proved this to be correct, and that the functional improvement was sustained 6 months after treatment. The authors wrote that “The ultimate aim of IPRP is not to alleviate pain or produce short-term functional gains, but rather to foster sustained benefits that patients can continue for the remainder of their lives.” Dr. Maixner added “Medicare, Medicaid and private insurers, therefore, must offer better coverage for biopsychosocial pain management as part of a comprehensive national effort to bring relief to people with chronic pain without resorting to opioids.”

Read the conclusions and recommendations.

The journal abstract may be read here.

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