Working Group Tackles Chronic Pain Care as Part of Samueli Institute’s Breakthrough Collaborative Series


Pain is the most common reason patients seek health care in the United States. Use of opioids, steroids, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, and other analgesics has significantly increased in recent years with opioid prescriptions alone increasing by 60% from 2000 to 2010. Such treatment can be costly and may cause medication dependence and potential abuse.

On June 3rd and 4th, 2015, Samueli Institute hosted its first learning session as part of a breakthrough collaborative to address how chronic pain is managed in today’s heath care system. Eight health care organizations joined Samueli Institute’s leadership team and expert faculty to embark on a seven-month journey to embrace improvements in person-centered chronic pain management.2015PainCollaborative1

Participants represented the following organizations:

  • Bastyr University
  • Essential Integrative Health
  • Fort Belvoir Community Hospital
  • Madigan Army Medical Center
  • Southwest College of Naturopathic Medicine & Health Sciences
  • University of Bridgeport
  • Walter Reed National Military Medical Center
  • Washington DC VA Medical Center

Modeled after the IHI Breakthrough Series Collaborative, the mission of the working group is to achieve major improvement in person-centered, integrative care for patients with chronic pain, resulting in optimized human performance, quality of life, and daily function.

A Focus on Patient Empowerment

Although there are many treatment modalities for pain, the primary treatments continue to be over-the-counter and prescription medications, often in combination with minor or major surgical interventions.

This collaborative is focused on promoting patient self-care and empowerment, in addition to a cohesive team-based approach to manage chronic pain more effectively, an element that is considered critical to effective pain management.

Participants Set Goals, Establish Metrics

The leadership team, led by faculty chair LTG (ret) Eric Schoomaker, MD, PhD, engaged with the military, veteran, and civilian health center sites at the June learning session. Teams learned specific best practices in integration and heard how the collaborative method can accelerate improvement.

Participants worked with their individual teams to develop organization-specific and results-focused aim statements as well as a list of measures that define what each health care team expects to accomplish during the collaborative. Teams left with solid plans for effecting positive change.

The next steps are to move into action; first by testing changes on a small scale, and then expanding the best ideas across their organizations.

Learn more about the collaborative’s goals and process.