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News & Press: Pain Policy

50+ Organizations Lead the Way Toward Comprehensive Integrative Pain Management

Thursday, November 2, 2017   (0 Comments)
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San Diego, California - Seventy leaders from more than 50 organizations gathered in San Diego for the first-ever Integrative Pain Care Policy Congress on October 21-22 during the 28th Annual Meeting of the Academy of Integrative Pain Management (AIPM). Representing the full scope of licensed and certified health care providers, public and private payers, policy advocates, and research organizations, the group’s initial goal was to agree upon a definition of “comprehensive integrative pain management”.  A universal definition of comprehensive integrative pain management, among organizations that have never come together around this issue, is an integral step towards implementing key solutions for the opioid overdose epidemic.

The following definition came out of this inaugural Integrative Pain Care Policy Congress:

Comprehensive integrative pain management includes biomedical, psychosocial, complementary health, and spiritual care. It is person-centered and focuses on maximizing function and wellness.  Care plans are developed through a shared decision-making model that reflects the available evidence regarding optimal clinical practice and the person’s goals and values.

The opioid crisis was officially declared a national public health emergency in October 2017. “National efforts to reduce opioid prescribing continue to ignore significant and compelling data that prove pain care is not one-size-fits-all, and instead, requires comprehensive integrative pain management”, said Bob Twillman, executive director of the Academy of Integrative Pain Management.  “During this inaugural Congress, there was strong agreement that in order to actively address the opioid overdose epidemic while providing quality care for people with high-impact pain, we must align efforts to promote quality care focused on function and wellness, not care guided only by what payers are covering. We must continue discussions with payers and researchers to review and enhance the existing evidence in service of expanding payer coverage of safe and effective pain treatments.”

Clay Jackson, MD, DipTh, AIPM board president, added, “This Congress created, for the first time, an opportunity for leaders representing the full scope of healthcare providers, payers, and patients, to discuss how we can change the status quo.  There was strong agreement that lasting solutions require a culture change and payment reform in health care, with a deeper understanding of the interplay among pain management, behavioral health, and addiction.”

Attendees of the Congress said the sheer number of organizations and participating stakeholders was monumental. This Congress was a giant first step forward, bringing together diverse participants who had not yet come together to discuss how we can advance integrative pain care. 
Dr. Soma Wali, representing the American College of Physicians, commented that “Advancing evidence-based treatment for pain is a high priority for our organization, and the strength of this collective group was extremely motivating--we all have the same common goal to provide the best care to our patients and to continue to save lives.

A full report on the outcomes of the Integrative Pain Care Policy Congress will be released by the end of this year. For more information, please contact Amy Goldstein at