U.S. Pain Foundation’s Director of State Advocacy and Alliance Development Shaina Smith has been appointed to serve on a pain management design group put together by Connecticut’s Office of Health Strategy (OHS).

The Primary Care Modernization initiative is intended to enable primary care providers to expand and diversify their care teams and provide more flexible, non-visit-based methods for patient care, support, and engagement. The design process will result in a proposed program model that details new care delivery capabilities for Connecticut’s primary care practices and payment model options that support those capabilities.

To build the new primary care system in Connecticut, the initiative has developed a handful of design groups, including the pain management design group for this project. Smith says Connecticut’s primary care practices have reported difficulty in managing patients’ chronic pain, further solidifying the need for this design group.

“The pain management design group will consider the integration of pain management as a practice specialization for primary care, while looking at ways patients can access quality care outside of the traditional office setting and overall integrative care approaches,” Smith explains.

During the design group’s first meeting, Smith spoke among primary care physicians, pediatricians and other professionals from Yale, UConn and other local health care facilities. Discussions surrounded primary care providers looking at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines to deliver chronic pain management to patients. Smith, however, disagreed with the draft recommendation.

“I made it clear to the group that, while the CDC guidelines are well-intended, some portions have caused unintended harm to legitimate chronic pain patients,” Smith states. “After providing examples of how prescribing and dispensing practices under the recommended CDC guidelines have posed significant barriers to access for the chronic pain community, the design group was in agreement that it should take into consideration recommendations found within the National Pain Strategy.”

The objectives of the new model include improved care quality, better patient experience, and more affordable care. Consumer needs, based on Consumer Advisory Board listening sessions, will also be taken into consideration, such as supporting the management of chronic pain through education and patient empower, accessible mental health services, and long-term addiction recovery support. The timeline for implementation is 2020-2021.

For more information about OHS, visit https://portal.ct.gov/OHS.