Pfizer Awards $299,997 Grant to Community Health Center, Inc.’s Weitzman Institute

Funds to be used to establish an online professional learning community to improve pain management and reduce prescription opioid misuse in primary care

MIDDLETOWN, Conn; December 10, 2014: Community Health Center, Inc.’s (CHC) Weitzman Institute has received a grant in the amount of $299,997 from Pfizer’s Independent Grant for Learning & Change. This funding will allow Weitzman Institute (WI) to establish an online professional learning community on chronic pain management in the primary care setting – PainNET. The goal of PainNET is directly aligned with the mission of CHC and WI; to provide the highest quality of care to medically underserved patients, and in particular to those experiencing disparities in healthcare outcomes.

Building on CHC’s highly successful Project ECHO Pain - a national program using teleconferencing to train primary care providers nationwide in appropriate pain management - CHC will work with 35 participating practices from five states to develop, test and evaluate PainNET. These collaborators include Integrative Pain Center of Arizona, along with practices from Maine, Delaware, Arizona, Connecticut, and New Jersey.

Leveraging the newest thinking in healthcare delivery and education, PainNET will feature collaborative, multidisciplinary communication and shared learning. Providers can obtain answers to clinical questions from experts, interact with providers from other disciplines to develop care plans, gain access to learning modules, and find resources to help implement best practices in pain care. The project will develop a virtual community connected via the PainNET web platform, committed to improved care for patients with chronic pain.

Dr. Daren Anderson, CHC’s VP/Chief Quality Officer and Director of the Weitzman Institute, emphasized the importance of inter-professional communication by adding that “few primary care providers still round in hospitals and increased pressure for productivity limits opportunities for telephone consultation and case discussions. PainNET will capitalize on well-established online tools to foster such communication in an asynchronous, highly efficient manner. The goal is to create a forum through which providers can ask questions, post ideas, and interact with a range of specialists through online discussion forums, chats, and direct email communication.”

Substantial disparities have been documented in the quality of and access to pain care for members of racial and ethnic minorities. PainNET is intended to enhance access to evidence-based pain management for such patients by building the capacity of federally qualified health centers and safety net practices to provide high quality pain care.

“There is a need for system-level interventions to support care teams and ensure adherence to best practices,” said Mark Masselli, President and CEO of CHC. “The PainNET intervention will capitalize on the expertise and experience of CHC’s Weitzman Institute (WI) with quality improvement interventions to improve pain management outcomes.”