Connecticut-Based Community Health Center, Inc. Helps Colorado Healthcare Providers Battle Against Pain through Telehealth Program

MIDDLETOWN, Conn; March 26, 2015: Community Health Center, Inc. (CHC), Connecticut’s largest federally qualified health center, has been chosen by the Colorado Department of Health Care Policy and Financing’s (HCPF) Accountable Care Collaborative (ACC) to develop and deliver the Chronic Pain Disease Management Program, which leverages cutting edge telehealth technologies to assist Colorado primary care providers in treating chronic pain and reducing opioid abuse among Medicaid clients.

Colorado selected CHC based on its expertise in quality improvement and the use of telehealth to transform primary care and help primary care providers to treat patients with chronic pain and opioid dependency.

HCPF will sponsor approximately 60 primary care providers to serve as “telehealth pioneers” for Colorado. Participation in the program will give providers full access, from anywhere – via an online videoconference system, to the Chronic Pain Telehealth Program.

The Chronic Pain Program has been created by CHC’s Weitzman Institute (WI), based on its successful Project ECHO (Extension for Community Health Outcomes) Pain Management. This program provides case-based learning and support for individual clinicians to help improve knowledge and confidence to treat pain and opioid dependency.

The program engages providers and clinical support staff from Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHCs) and safety net practices in Colorado with an expert, multidisciplinary team of pain experts from the Integrative Pain Center of Arizona (IPCA), to improve both the quality and safety of pain management. By meeting these goals, the project will reduce healthcare costs while improving health outcomes for patients.

“States and primary care practices across America are struggling with patients suffering from chronic pain and an increased dependence on opioids,” said Mark Masselli, President and CEO of Community Health Center, Inc. The secret sauce of Project ECHO is bringing together a community of learners sharing best practices between Behavioral Health and primary care providers.

Chronic pain — typically defined as pain lasting more than three to six months — affects more than 100 million adult Americans, according to a 2011 report from the Institute of Medicine, part of the National Academy of Sciences. In 2010, that was more than 40% of the adult population. It is the leading reason people go to doctors and it costs the nation upwards of $635 billion a year — more than cancer, heart disease and diabetes combined.

“This program supports the goals of Governor Hickenlooper and the Colorado Consortium for Drug Abuse Prevention by giving providers throughout the state better access to education and evidence-based strategies for preventing opioid addiction,” said Susan E. Birch, MBA, BSN, RN, executive director. “It uses health technology so primary care providers can practice at the top of their scope to make evidence-based treatment available to Medicaid clients, particularly those in rural and frontier areas with limited access to specialists.”

“There is an urgent need to help primary care clinicians gain the expertise to manage chronic pain. These are among the most common things we see in our clinic,” explained Dr. Daren Anderson, Community Health Center’s VP/Chief Quality Officer and Director of the Weitzman Institute. “Our project is focused on helping primary care clinicians tackle these issues by using technology and quality improvement science to improve pain care.”