Ochsner Health System was recently awarded a $1.6 million grant by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) for its Opioid Treatment and Recovery through Safe Pain Management Program. The grant, which will be used over a four-year period, will help healthcare providers safely manage non-cancer related chronic pain in primary care settings across South Louisiana.

According to the American Society of Addiction Medicine, 2 million Americans had substance use disorders involving prescription pain relievers or opiate medication in 2015. With over 20,000 deaths related to prescription pain relievers, drug overdose is the leading cause of accidental death in the U.S., with opiate addiction driving this epidemic. Louisiana is in the top 10 for both the highest opioid prescribing rates and cause of death associated with opioids.

“Opioid prescription drug abuse has been a major public concern in the U.S. for many years with increasing death rates due to fatal overdoses,” said Dr. Eboni Price-Haywood, Director of the Ochsner Center for Outcomes and Health Services Research. “We have reached a critical point in healthcare where we must change the way we deliver care to patients who suffer from non-cancer chronic pain.”

In response to the opioid crisis, Ochsner’s leadership saw an opportunity to make improvements to the current prescribing system and provide solutions that would avoid overprescribing of opioid-related medications while providing more pain management resources to patients. This included a task force with representation from multiple departments; programs to more appropriately manage pain and designed to restore a patient’s function; and Gateway solution platform integrated with Epic -- Ochsner’s electronic medical record -- and the state prescription drug monitoring program so physicians and pharmacists were better informed of the patient’s prescription history outside of the system.

The four-year research study through the NIH grant will build on these critical solutions Ochsner created to better manage patients and their pain while mitigating risk. It will also more closely examine the evolving role of technology, care team optimization and opioid prescribing behaviors. Ochsner clinicians expect the data retrieved from this study to lead to critical insights that can not only effectively improve clinical outcomes for these patients but improve the care delivery model for this specific population.

“Ochsner Health System has an ongoing commitment to bringing innovative care solutions to our patients. We are dedicated to providing the best care available today, while simultaneously developing solutions for the patients of tomorrow,” said Leonardo Seoane, MD, Interim Chief Academic Officer, Ochsner Health System. “Seeking a solution to the ongoing opioid epidemic facing not just Louisiana, but our country, is critically important and funding from the NIH makes programs like Ochsner’s Opioid Treatment and Recovery through Safe Pain Management Program possible.”

This project is funded by grants from the National Institute on Drug Abuse (1 R01 DA045029-01) and is being conducted in collaboration with Tulane University School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine and Harvard Medical School. Dr. Price-Haywood is the principal investigator.

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