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HHS Inter-Agency Task Force Calls For Patient-Centric Pain Management

January 28, 2019
The members offer multimodal treatments to consider

A PPM Brief

The Pain Management Best Practices Inter-Agency Task Force has called for individualized, patient-centered pain management for patients with acute and chronic pain in a new draft report.1 The Task Force, established by the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act of 2016, aims to propose updates to practices and issue recommendations to address gaps and inconsistencies in managing pain.

A 29-member federal advisory committee composed of healthcare providers, patients, and federal employees, the Task Force is overseen by the HHS, in cooperation with the US Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and the US Department of Defense. Members have significant public and private sector experience across pain management, patient advocacy, substance use disorders, and mental health.

“This draft report offers a wide range of treatment modalities with a framework to allow for multidisciplinary, individualized patient-centered care,” said Vanila M. Singh, MD, MACM, chair of the Task Force and chief medical officer of the HHS Office of the Assistant Secretary for Health, in a release.

Draft recommendations have a 90-day public comment period. (Source: 123RF)

The draft report’s proposed recommendations include:2

  • Balanced pain management should be based on a biopsychosocial model of care
  • Individualized, patient-centered care is vital to addressing the public health pain crisis
  • Ensure better and safer opioid stewardship through risk assessment based on patients’ medical, social, and family history to ensure safe and appropriate prescribing
  • Multidisciplinary approach to chronic pain that focuses on the patient’s medical condition, comorbidities, and various aspects of care including:
  • Medications. Different classes depending on patient medical conditions and history
  • Restorative movement therapies. Physical and occupational therapy, massage therapy, aqua therapy
  • Interventional procedures. Different types of minimally invasive procedures can be important for both acute and chronic pain
  • Complementary and integrative health. Acupuncture, yoga, tai chi, meditation
  • Behavioral health/psychological interventions. Coping skills, cognitive behavioral therapy
  • Multimodal approach to acute pain in the surgical, injury, burn and trauma setting
  • Perioperative surgical home and acute pain guidelines to provide a framework for improved patient experience and outcomes
  • Addressing drug shortages that might affect acute and chronic pain care
  • Access to care is vital through improved health care coverage for various treatment modalities and an enlarged workforce of pain specialists and behavioral health clinicians to help guide and support appropriately trained primary care clinicians
  • Stigma is a major barrier to treatment, so it is important to provide empathy and a non-judgmental approach to improve treatment and outcomes
  • Education through societal awareness, provider education and training, and patient education are needed to understand choices and promote therapeutic alliances between patients and providers
  • Innovative solutions to pain management such as telemedicine, telementoring, mobile apps for behavioral and psychological skills, newer medicines, and medical devices should be utilized as part of the overall approach to pain management.
  • Research is required to develop a better understanding of the mechanisms of pain, preventive measures, the use of innovative medical devices and medications to prevent the acute-to-chronic pain transition, and methods to improve outcomes of chronic pain conditions
  • Special populations are highlighted, including pediatric, women, older adults, American Indians/Alaskan Natives, active duty soldiers/veterans, sickle cell disease (as an example of a chronic relapsing condition)

A 90-day public comment period has been established on the draft report for those to provide comment on the proposed recommendations, after which it will be finalized and submitted to Congress later this year.

More information on the Task Force can be found on their website.

Last updated on: February 15, 2019
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