Innovation In Chronic Pain Care At University of Bridgeport


The breakthrough change James Lehman, DC, MBA, FACO is implementing at the University of Bridgeport Health Sciences division has the potential to improve patient care, boost patient and provider satisfaction while cutting the cost of provider pain care by 33%.

His big idea is to implement a new guideline for the use of chiropractic specialists as gatekeepers for the diagnosis and treatment of back pain.

By tapping into the evidence base in patient-centered chiropractic care, Dr. Lehman’s goals are to reduce the use of opioid medications, medical errors, cost of care, unnecessary tests and treatments, while improving patient and provider satisfaction.

The new proposed guidelines are an effort to build on past successes. Thanks to successful pilot projects, U of Bridgeport knows it’s possible to integrate chiropractic services in primary care sites within federally qualified health centers, patient medical homes and community health center organizations.

Integrating Evidence-Based Treatments into Standard Care

Innovations like those being discussed at the University of Bridgeport and the Community Health Center, Inc. are an effort to integrate evidence-based treatments like chiropractic care into the traditional health care system.

Despite efforts to advance the science and to broaden the aperture of accepted treatments, there are major barriers that continue to be encountered in the world of the practice and delivery of care to patients with chronic pain.


Dr. Perlman (with microphone) a guide the Chronic Pain Breakthrough Collaborative. 2015

In response, Samueli Institute stood up an effort to build effective team-based, patient-centered care, across the spectrum of modalities that may be available, both within the conventional and complementary world. A group of subject matter experts launched a multi-sided, multidisciplinary, both civilian and military approach to the problem of comprehensive management of chronic pain.

This effort is called the Chronic Pain Breakthrough Collaborative. The team is led by an expert faculty—including Adam Perlman, MD, of Duke Integrative Medicine and —who will guide and mentor participating  organizations through the 12-month improvement process. Currently participants are being recruited for its second year.

Collaborative provides forum for big ideas to percolate

“The nice thing about our participation with the breakthrough collaborative was that I finally had chance to be away from the daily activity with the university and the community health center to sit with people with common goals and then brainstorm. Without this time away I don’t think I would have ever come up with the concept, which I think is innovative, relative to changing these recommended guidelines. So, that’s been very, very valuable to the University of Bridgeport. I appreciate the whole faculty and all the people involved enabling us to look outside the box.” – Dr. Lehman

Through in person learning sessions, team calls, and one-on-one mentoring, participants worked to improve the main drivers of an integrative healthcare environment in an effort to combat the opioid crisis in America.

Through innovative thinkers like Dr. Lehman and the other participants in the Breakthrough Collaborative, the approach is beginning to shift.