MIDDLETOWN, Conn., October 26, 2016: For primary care providers, who care for about half of all the patients with chronic pain, the growing awareness of the questionable long-term treatment value of opioids with their likelihood of diversion, overdose and addiction has left them struggling for solutions.
To provide guidance, clinical providers and care team members everywhere have free access to PainNET, an online learning community developed by Community Health Center, Inc. and the Weitzman Institute. The website, www.painnet.net, which became public October 26, contains essential tools and resources to help providers tackle issues of pain and prescription opioid management.
“The tools and resources provided in PainNET come directly from pain experts with extensive experience working with patients,” said Daren Anderson, MD, vice president and chief quality officer at CHC, a primary care organization with more than 145,000 patients, and director of the Weitzman Institute. “We know most primary care providers received little training in the management of complex pain or cases where pain, addiction and mental health issues co-exist. We believe PainNET helps fill that knowledge gap.”
PainNET was developed in 2015 as a content library of video recordings, resources and blog posts for providers participating in Project ECHO Pain, the recurring videoconferences that allow primary care medical and behavioral health clinicians to present challenging cases to a multidisciplinary team from the Integrative Pain Center of Arizona and receive real-time advice on pain care. Currently, PainNET is being used by more than 229 providers from over 80 practices.
“We learned that participants in Project ECHO Pain needed flexible access to pain care content in order to recall presented information and share it with other providers at their practice sites,” said Anderson. After making PainNET available to ECHO Pain participants and staff members at participating practice sites, CHC surveyed initial users and learned that most expressed high satisfaction with PainNET and its use in their practices and that most providers experienced statistically significant improvement in their knowledge about caring for patients with complex chronic pain. One primary care provider in Colorado said, “PainNET is a way to discuss difficult situations with other doctors so that I don't feel so alone in trying to figure out the best course of action.”
PainNET is also designed to serve as a portal through which providers and primary care practices can gain access to Project ECHO for additional support and training or Pain eConsults for prompt consultations with pain specialists.
“By making PainNET free and online, we make it available 24/7, so providers can access it when they have time and as often as they like,” said Dan Wilensky, MD, a primary care provider at CHC and a faculty member for PainNET, providing content and answering posts. “For providers to gain confidence in their ability to manage pain, they need access to essential tools and resources related to issues of pain care and prescription opioid management.”
Specific elements of PainNET include:
· A resource library with comprehensive and printable tools, assessments, and articles.
· A discussion forum with healthcare providers and specialists answering questions, discussing pain-related topics, sharing resources. Providers can also post case-related questions for feedback and recommendations from specialists and peers.
· PainCare 101 with videos and articles providing basic knowledge about appropriate pain care and opioid prescribing.
· A clinicians’ corner with specialty-specific blogs from experts in chiropractic medicine, physical therapy, and oriental and alternative medicine.
“We believe PainNET is an essential resource for primary care providers on the front lines of the opioid abuse crisis, giving them specific resources and tools to care for patients struggling with pain and addiction, and providing access to additional training and support that will help them learn new approaches to care,” said Anderson.
About Community Health Center, Inc.
Since 1972, Community Health Center, Inc. has been one of the leading healthcare providers in the state of Connecticut, building a world-class primary healthcare system committed to caring for uninsured and underserved populations. CHC is focused on improving health outcomes for its more than 145,000 patients as well as building healthy communities. Recognized as both a Level 3 Patient-Centered Medical Home by the National Committee for Quality Assurance and a Primary Care Medical Home by The Joint Commission, CHC delivers service in more than 200 locations statewide, offering primary care in medical, dental and behavioral health services. For more information, visit www.chc1.com.