April 30, 2018 | The University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS) has launched a free weekly education and consultation service for Arkansas health care providers to better manage chronic pain patients and those who need their opioid dosage reduced.
Arkansas Improving Multidisciplinary Pain Care Treatment (AR-IMPACT) was announced today at a news conference at the state Capitol with Gov. Asa Hutchinson, Arkansas Blue Cross and Blue Shield, Arkansas Drug Director Kirk Lane and partnering agencies: the Arkansas Medical Society, Arkansas Academy of Family Physicians, the Arkansas State Medical Board, the Arkansas Department of Human Services and the Arkansas Department of Health.
Funding for UAMS AR-IMPACT’s first year has been provided by $104,125 from Arkansas Blue Cross and Blue Shield and $49,000 from the office of the state drug director.
“We are thankful to Arkansas Blue Cross and Blue Shield for their partnership as we work to improve pain management in Arkansas,” said UAMS Interim Chancellor Stephanie Gardner, Pharm.D., Ed.D. “As the state’s only health sciences university, UAMS is uniquely positioned to address this issue head on for the betterment of all Arkansans.”
“Arkansas Blue Cross recognizes that the opioid epidemic threatens the health of the people of Arkansas in many ways,” said Curtis Barnett, Arkansas Blue Cross president and CEO. “For those in chronic pain and for those treating them, it’s not an easy resolution. We already have been working with health care providers to help get a better understanding of opioid prescribing patterns in Arkansas and we believe the new AR-IMPACT education program with UAMS will help doctors learn about resources and alternatives to managing pain. It will take everyone working together to truly impact this crisis.”
Arkansas ranks second in the nation for its opioid prescribing rate with an average of 114.6 prescriptions per 100 people, according to U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data from 2014-2016.There were 116 deaths per day from opioid-related drug overdoses in the United States in 2016, according to the U.S Department of Health and Human Services.
UAMS AR-IMPACT is a live streaming online video conferencing service staffed by a multidisciplinary team from UAMS, including a pain physician, addiction psychiatrist, a psychologist, two pharmacists and a physical therapist. For more information, go to arimpact.uams.edu.
“Prescribers are experiencing greater scrutiny than ever before,” said G. Richard Smith, M.D., a professor in the Department of Psychiatry in the UAMS College of Medicine who is spearheading the project. “However, they won’t be able to reduce their patients’ dependency overnight. In fact, stopping cold is dangerous. What these doctors need is access to the whole toolkit of what is available so they can best serve their patients. We hope to help with that.”
Each weekly conference will include a 20-minute presentation on an opioid-related topic and a question-and-answer session. Participants are encouraged to present patient cases for individualized feedback about approaches to treatment.
Physicians, physician assistants, nurse practitioners, pharmacists and other health care providers are welcome to use the service and will be able to earn continuing medical education credits.
Topics will include how to taper off opioids, alternatives to opioids for pain management, when physical therapy is appropriate, when to recommend a nerve block or an epidural and more. Smith said participant interest will guide future topic choices.
UAMS AR-IMPACT is the latest of UAMS’ efforts to respond to the opioid epidemic which include reducing opioid prescriptions while improving patient outcomes, re-educating staff, treating overdose patients and treating opioid addiction through medication and group therapy. Research to improve understanding of opioid addiction and its treatment is ongoing in departments across campus.
UAMS is the state’s only health sciences university, with colleges of Medicine, Nursing, Pharmacy, Health Professions and Public Health; a graduate school; hospital; northwest Arkansas regional campus; statewide network of regional centers; and seven institutes: the Winthrop P. Rockefeller Cancer Institute, Jackson T. Stephens Spine & Neurosciences Institute, Myeloma Institute, Harvey & Bernice Jones Eye Institute, Psychiatric Research Institute, Donald W. Reynolds Institute on Aging and Translational Research Institute. It is the only adult Level 1 trauma center in the state. UAMS has 2,834 students, 822 medical residents and six dental residents. It is the state’s largest public employer with more than 10,000 employees, including 1,200 physicians who provide care to patients at UAMS, its regional campuses throughout the state, Arkansas Children’s Hospital, the VA Medical Center and Baptist Health. Visit www.uams.edu or www.uamshealth.com. Find us on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube or Instagram.