MIDDLETOWN, Conn. (Aug. 30, 2017)—Chronic pain affects more than 100 million Americans. It’s the number one reason someone goes to the doctor. It’s also the leading cause of disability. And yet chronic pain often goes ignored and undertreated. In the wake of the opioid crisis especially, people living with chronic pain feel stigmatized and misunderstood.
U.S. Pain Foundation, the leading chronic pain advocacy organization in the country, aims to change that. In September, the nonprofit is spearheading efforts for Pain Awareness Month, a national campaign to increase awareness about chronic pain.
Despite opposition from groups like the U.S. Pain Foundation, beginning in January 2018, the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) will change the pain management questions on patient hospital satisfaction surveys from how well staff did controlling patients’ pain to how often they “talked” to patients about their pain. The Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems, known as the HCAHPS survey, is a high-profile, publicly reported measure that allows consumers to compare the quality of care between different hospitals. Survey results are also used to determine a portion of hospital reimbursement rates.
In honor of Pain Awareness Month, NeuroMetrix—the makers of Quell, a wearable, drug-free pain relief device—will donate a portion of the proceeds from the sale of limited-edition Quell Pain Awareness Bundles to U.S. Pain. These bundles, available only during September, include a Quell Starter Kit, an additional month supply of Quell Sport Electrodes ($29.95 value), and an extra Quell band ($14.95 value), along with educational materials and a pain warrior bracelet from U.S. Pain.
As Texas and Louisiana continue efforts to keep residents safe, patient-centered organizations are concerned for pain patients and others who have had their treatments interrupted or are without medical equipment.To ensure patients affected by Hurricane Harvey do not face unintended, negative health outcomes, U.S. Pain has put together an online engagement campaign that asks the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to activate its Emergency Prescription Assistance Program. This would allow eligible patients to receive their necessary prescriptions and medical equipment at no cost from participating pharmacies.
Each day during Pain Awareness Month, U.S. Pain will post a different “challenge”or task on social media for its followers. Most challenges take just a few minutes to complete from the comfort of your home. This year’s challenge features fun engagements, new resources, special promos, and even a giveaway. To join in, like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.
Here’s a preview of each day’s theme:
On Aug. 10, a commercial highlighting the U.S. Pain Foundation aired on Fox Business Channel, reaching millions. The commercial was produced and aired for free as part of “Behind the Scenes,” a program that showcases nonprofits and companies and the services they provide.
The commercial shares the story of U.S. Pain president and founder, Paul Gileno, and the importance of advocating for the chronic pain community, while highlighting U.S. Pain programs and resources.
City & State: Meriden, CT
Pain warrior role: U.S. Pain Senior State Advocate
Conditions: Parkinson’s disease, unknown neuromuscular disorder, bilateral restrictive lung disease, effects of stroke, spinal stenosis, degenerative disc disease, asthma, primary immune deficiency, and vestibular dysfunction.
Favorite Tip: “Just because you have chronic pain doesn’t mean you have to be defined by it. Remember everyone has their own story, so never feel that anyone is more deserving of care that you. Your story belongs to you, you get to decide how you face each new day. Speak up for yourself. Finding something to distract yourself from the pain and anxiety of daily life is extremely helpful, adapt it to your needs; for example, I can no longer hold a book, so I use an e-reader to read!”
In a conference room overlooking Washington, D.C., nonprofit organizations and other stakeholders gathered around the table and gave U.S. Pain Foundation the opportunity to present ideas and cultivate conversations surrounding patient access issues.
Known as the Keeping Patients Stable on Their Medications Coalition, the group had met in the past to address step therapy and nonmedical switching, two common insurance barriers to medications. Now under the leadership of the U.S. Pain Foundation, the goal is to expand upon the coalition’s initial efforts.
How do you find high quality, affordable care? If you have health insurance, you might start with your insurance plan and check which doctors are in-network. You might Google which doctors are located nearby, or search Yelp or other review sites to see what people say about the doctors. You might even ask family or friends for recommendations.
Yet, even if you went through all that to find a doctor, would you feel confident that you made the right choice? You might still be missing a crucial piece of information: how much experience does this doctor have treating your condition?
On Sept. 19 at 1 pm EST, U.S. Pain will host its bimonthly webinar open to all volunteers and members. The first portion of the webinar provides an update from U.S. Pain’s department heads. The second portion will feature a presentation by Ellen Lenox Smith, U.S. Pain’s co-director of Medical Cannabis: “Why I turned to medical cannabis: An overview of cannabis use and activism.”
“The presentation is great for anyone who is interested in trying medical cannabis, but doesn’t know where to start,” says Lenox Smith.