A Collaborative Focus On Pain Management


In early September, Samueli Institute convened more than 40 leaders in pain management as part of the Chronic Pain Breakthrough Collaborative. The meeting was the second of three highly interactive learning sessions focused on state-of-the-art ideas in integrative chronic pain care.  Participants shared with each other the specific best practices they’ve tried – what worked and what didn’t – and learned how to customize recommended ideas to accelerate improvement in their own organizations.

Participants included military and civilian health system practitioners, from senior health system leaders, physicians, anesthesiologists, and surgeons to social workers, acupuncturists, physical therapists, and process improvement specialists, all dedicated to providing better care for patients who suffer from chronic pain.

Diane Flynn, M.D., Primary Care Pain Advisor for the Interdisciplinary Pain Management Clinic at the Madigan Army Medical Center (IPMC), came to the collaborative with the goal of improving the quality of life and military medical readiness for patients who complete the Integrative Modalities Pain Care Team (IMPACT) program between June 2015 and January 2016. Although her team had been using PDSA cycles, the collaborative offered a more intensive approach to the process.

“What we’re focusing on in terms of our outcomes is pain intensity, depression, anxiety, [the ability to] function, and anger. We’re helping people to have better function in their lives with safer types of therapies like acupuncture, chiropractic, yoga, massage, physical and occupational therapy, health psychology, and self-management, and we attempting to reduce the need for invasive surgeries and exposure to surgical risks.” Flynn explained. “Taking part in this collaborative has really helped us take what we knew in our minds and put it into practice. It’s also just generated a lot of valuable input from members of our team on how we can improve our clinical processes.”

This learning session offered the opportunity for participants to share what results they’re experiencing at their hospitals, institutions, or clinics as a result of their Collaborative participation. During the time between the first and second learning sessions, using the PDSA process, participants developed a plan to test possible changes for their organization, carried out the test, and then observed the results.

The teams have concentrated on making improvements in four areas:

  1.  Increasing autonomy for individuals to manage their pain through non-pharmacological approaches;
  2.  Integration of multiple disciplines in team-based approaches;
  3.  Increasing quality of life through decreasing the level of pain, medication burden, and risk of opioid dependence; and
  4.  Building a sustainable business model that provides positive or neutral financial impact over time. These improvements are adding up to a sustainable business model for the future.

Samueli Institute is currently seeking participants for the next learning community on chronic pain. Learn more on our website: http://samueliinstitute.org/chronicpain