An Evidence-Based Approach to Opioid Management

The opioid crisis is a large and complex problem and requires a nuanced and multifaceted response. In 2016, a clinical research team at the University of Washington Department of Family Medicine and Kaiser Permanente Washington Health Research Institute developed the Six Building Blocks Program to address the crisis head-on. This evidence-based, guideline-driven opioid management program is specifically for primary care clinics managing chronic pain patients on long-term opioid therapy. The program focuses on the following:

  1. Demonstrating leadership support and building organization-wide consensus for more cautious opioid prescribing
  2. Revising, aligning, and implementing clinic policies, patient agreements, and workflows
  3. Tracking and monitoring all patients on long-term opioid therapy
  4. Preparing and planning patient-centered clinic visits for patients on long-term opioid therapy
  5. Identifying resources and caring for patients with complex needs
  6. Measuring success and continuously monitoring progress and improvements

Benefits of Improving Long-Term Opioid Therapy Management

Communities that are implementing the Six Building Blocks Program in their primary care practices and clinics are seeing a decline in the number of patients being prescribed opioids for long-term chronic pain. Additionally, providers and staff feel less stressed knowing they have a systematic approach to managing patients on long-term opioid therapies. During a clinical trial, 20 rural and rural-serving clinics that implemented the program, resulted in fewer patients using chronic opioid therapies and fewer patients on high-dose opioids, reducing the risk of accidental overdose and death.

Combatting the opioid epidemic will require the healthcare industry and government to remain laser-focused on improving clinical training for physicians on the guidelines for opioid prescribing, expanding access to behavioral health and addiction resources, and holding major pharmaceutical companies accountable for their part in the expansion of opioids on the market.

As the national leader in rural healthcare consulting, Stroudwater Associates’ clinical team is well-versed in how the opioid epidemic has uniquely affected rural communities. In a recent white paper, we discuss the history of the crisis, the impact of inconsistent prescribing patterns, and where healthcare organizations can go from here, download now to read more.