How a Leading Health System is Tackling the Opioid Crisis Head-On

How Intermountain Healthcare Developed Its Pain Management Strategy

In L.E.K. Consulting’s Executive Insights, we examine what an innovative health system is doing to help patients cope with pain while tackling the opioid over-prescription problem head-on. Some key takeaways:

-    Opioid addiction has reached crisis proportions in the United States.

-    Recognizing that pain is an issue in every care setting, Intermountain developed a program that:

      *  Enables primary care physicians to offer alternative ways to manage their patients’ pain symptoms

      *  Takes a multidisciplinary approach to managing pain in other outpatient settings

      *  Provides hospitals with pain specialist consults to help improve outcomes for chronic pain patients while offering opioid alternatives to other patients

-     Systematic pain management can also bring costs under control.

-     As an integrated system, Intermountain is well-positioned to implement such a program. Success in other healthcare settings will require a thoughtful approach to stakeholder alignment and rollout.

Start reading the full article below:

The CDC estimates that nearly 80 people die of opioid overdose each day in the United States. Opioid overuse is a critical issue, and the need for interventions is becoming an urgent priority for many health systems.

Utah-based Intermountain Healthcare has made preventing prescription opioid misuse a top community health priority. Utah ranks eighth in the nation for opioid overdose deaths. In 2016, Intermountain helped create an Opioid Community Collaborative, partnering with public health organizations, behavioral health providers and law enforcement agencies to address the problem, which is causing nearly one death in Utah every day.

In addition, Intermountain caregivers made developing a comprehensive pain management strategy a top priority. Intermountain sought to develop an end-to-end strategy to tackle the opioid over-prescription problem head-on, while maintaining quality pain management for patients. The organization selected global strategy firm L.E.K. Consulting to assist it in this endeavor. In fact, Intermountain was the first among L.E.K.’s healthcare clients to take the initiative to develop a comprehensive pain management strategy.

Intermountain looked within its own system to ensure that a new pain management strategy would build on the capabilities and strengths already in place. For example, Intermountain’s notable Mental Health Integration Model links mental health screenings and resources with patient visits at Intermountain primary care clinics. Likewise, Intermountain sought to learn from best practices of established pain management programs across the United States. L.E.K. assisted Intermountain in inventorying existing pain management capabilities across its system, as well as surveying the leading pain management programs developed at leading health systems and academic medical centers, to inform the design of Intermountain Healthcare’s comprehensive pain management program design. Nationwide, there were elements of successful pain management programs, but no one had yet developed a comprehensive solution.

Intermountain sought to achieve two objectives: the avoidance of opioid dependence and escalation for acute pain patients, and improved outcomes and management of pain symptoms for chronic pain patients.

Intermountain also recognized that pain management issues are present in every care setting, indicating the need to develop program elements to address patients’ pain issues across the care continuum (see Figure 1). The resulting comprehensive strategy includes solutions for primary care and the physician’s office, outpatient clinics and facilities, and inpatient care. Continue reading the full Executive Insights on L.E.K.’s website where we dive into these 3 critical groups and more.

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