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Papers of the Week

Papers: 7 Jan 2023 - 13 Jan 2023


Human Studies

2023 Jan 09

J Pain

Overcoming Barriers to the Implementation of Integrated Musculoskeletal Pain Management Programs: A Multi-Stakeholder Qualitative Study.


Lentz TA, Gonzalez-Smith J, Huber K, Goertz C, Bleser W, Saunders R
J Pain. 2023 Jan 09.
PMID: 36634887.


Integrated pain management (IPM) programs can help to reduce the substantial population health burden of musculoskeletal pain, but are poorly implemented. Lessons learned from existing programs can inform efforts to expand IPM implementation. This qualitative study describes how health care systems, payers, providers, health policy researchers, and other stakeholders are overcoming barriers to developing and sustaining IPM programs in real-world settings. Primary data were collected February 2020 through September 2021 from a multi-sector expert panel of 25 stakeholders, 53 expert interviews representing 30 distinct IPM programs across the United States, and four original case studies of exemplar IPM programs. We use a consensual team-based approach to systematically analyze qualitative findings. We identified four major themes around challenges and potential solutions for implementing IPM programs: navigating coverage, payment, and reimbursement; enacting organizational change; making a business case to stakeholders; and overcoming regulatory hurdles. Strategies to address payment challenges included use of group visits, linked visits between billable and non-billable providers, and development of value-based payment models. Organizational change strategies included engagement of clinical and administrative champions and co-location of services. Business case strategies involved demonstrating the ability to initially break even and potential to reduce downstream costs, while improving non-financial outcomes like patient satisfaction and provider burnout. Regulatory hurdles were overcome with innovative credentialing methods by leveraging available waivers and managed care contracting to expand access to IPM services. Lessons from existing programs provide direction on to grow and support such IPM delivery models across a variety of settings. PERSPECTIVE: Integrated pain management (IPM) programs face numerous implementation challenges related to payment, organizational change, care coordination, and regulatory requirements. Drawing on real-world experiences of existing programs and from diverse IPM stakeholders, we outline actionable strategies that health care systems, providers, and payers can use to expand implementation of these programs.