Reducing Barriers to Multidisciplinary Models for Pain Care

woman sitting down holding sore neck

Did you know that in a 2019 survey by the American Board of Pain Medicine 92% of pain specialists “reported that they were required to submit a prior authorization for non-opioid pain care, which delayed patient treatment”? Non-opioid pain care includes occupational or physical therapy and non-opioid medications, treatments, creams, or patches. This barrier and more are what lead the American Medical Association (AMA) to recently recommend that states partner with universities and health systems to support “access to evidence-based interdisciplinary pain management delivery models” and that insurance companies review the coverage for these treatment protocols so they are on par with opioid coverage and patients are able to get the care they need.

These recommendations are included in AMA’s National Roadmap on State-Level Efforts to End the Nation’s Drug Overdose Epidemic, released in partnership with Manatt Health. The roadmap offers best practices and needed next steps to improve access to patient care and prevent deaths from overdoses. While coverage is limited for non-opioid pain management approaches, there is evidence, according to the AMA report, that “integrated, multidisciplinary, and multimodal care results in better overall outcomes for chronic pain and is more cost effective in the long term than opioid therapy alone.”

For example, physical therapy, especially accessed early on, has been shown to help with pain management and can reduce the need for opioid-based pain medications. Occupational therapy, massage, and acupuncture are also recognized as being helpful for some acute and chronic pain conditions. In addition, resources such as the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Pain Consortium aim to further build data sets related to pain management, especially across interdisciplinary programs and models of care.

With 50 million adults in the US experiencing some level of chronic daily pain, combined with the challenges of accessing health care services during the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, the need for increased provider and patient education on non-opioid pain management approaches and a reduction in barriers to care has never been more important. The AMA report highlights the benefits of pain management programs that support patients in improving physical function, identifying root causes of stress/trauma that may be connected to pain, and having access to (and being able to afford) services to help with pain mitigation. CSIP and its partners will continue to raise awareness of the dangers of opioid addiction and the importance of consumer education and access to care.

About the Center for Safe Internet Pharmacies (CSIP)
The Center for Safe Internet Pharmacies (CSIP), a non-profit organization founded in 2011 by the White House, represents the technology sector and commerce intermediaries including Google, Microsoft, Facebook, Oath, UPS, PayPal, MasterCard, Discover, American Express, and .Health. CSIP’s mission is to promote industry best practices as it relates to illegal online pharmacies, and educating consumers about safe purchasing of prescription drugs.