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The Integrative Pain Care Policy Congress: Why We Came Together

Posted By Katie Duensing, Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Held in San Diego, California, from October 21-22, 2017, the inaugural Integrative Pain Care Policy Congress was an invitation-only meeting that brought together approximately 70 leaders from 50+ organizations representing the full scope of licensed and certified health care professionals involved in pain care, along with insurers, regulators, people with pain, researchers, and policy experts (see roster). 

Our nation is facing two inter-related public health crises—chronic pain and prescription opioid misuse. To address these intertwined health crises, there is an ever-growing number of guidelines and policies intended to reduce opioid use at both the state and federal levels. While well-intentioned, these policies are impacting the health care that is available to those in need of acute and chronic pain management. Yet, often missing from the conversation surrounding the development of these policies is any talk of how to improve patient access to effective and affordable non-opioid treatments for pain, whether pharmacological or non-pharmacological.

The expertise, effort, and resources required to develop effective plans and interventions that address the public health crises of inadequate pain treatment and opioid-related harms are far beyond the capacities of any one organization, so it is essential that we find ways to work together to develop areas of consensus and strategies for collaboration. Facilitated by Academy of Integrative Pain Management and State Pain Policy Advocacy Network, in partnership with Alliance for Balanced Pain Management, Integrative Health Policy Consortium, and PAINS, the inaugural Integrative Pain Care Policy Congress provided us with the opportunity to do just that by:

  • Gathering, for the first time, leaders and experts representing the full scope of licensed and certified health care professionals involved in pain care, along with insurers, regulators, people with pain, researchers, and policy experts who believe that integrative pain care is essential.  We aimed to highlight current successes and barriers and to discuss opportunities to jointly promote optimal models to provide this kind of care.
  • Achieving consensus on the definition of comprehensive integrative pain management. This was accomplished relatively quickly in person due to focused pre-Congress survey work.
  • Considering stakeholders who should and/or must be included in the collective conversation as the Congress moves forward (in addition to those already participating).
  • Connecting the dots related to past and current efforts to find quality evidence supporting reimbursement for comprehensive integrative pain management.  To discuss the current state of coverage and constraints for payment, along with the most current data available on the effectiveness of these therapies for pain, the Congress facilitated conversations between CMS and private payers; clinical, policy, research leaders; health care providers; and patients.  
  • Focusing on meaningful future action for the Congress by working towards consensus policy and advocacy goals for 2018.  Congress participants identified many exciting Potential Strategies for Achieving Our Shared Goals, and a number of project-specific workgroups are currently being established.

To help kick off the inaugural in-person meeting and help each attendee understand the perspectives of the other attendees, we produced a short video.  This piece included statements shared in advance by attendees and intended to answer the question: What brings us together?

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