Intensive Outpatient Pain Management Cost-Effective for Treating Patients with Chronic Pain


An interdisciplinary treatment modality is especially effective when treating patients with chronic pain.

An interdisciplinary treatment modality is especially effective when treating patients with chronic pain in order to provide cost-effective, quality care, according to data from a scientific poster at the 33rd Annual Meeting of the American Academy of Pain Medicine.

To conduct their study, Duke University researchers established a cohort of 31 high utilizer patients with a comorbid diagnosis of chronic pain from April 2014 to July 2015. Patients in the cohort were referred to the Duke Medical Pain Service (MPS), an intensive outpatient pharmacologic management program that employs a physician-led care team specializing in both psychiatry and pain medicine.

After having been in MPS’s care for approximately one year, the cohort’s inpatient and outpatient financial data were analyzed to determine utilization patterns before and after the cohort initiated MPS treatment. Looking at 14 cost centers, the study found that care costs for patients in the cohort (calculated for total and yearly amounts) were reduced by 55% and 45% respectively. The cost per patient was reduced by nearly $9,000 per year.

This study supports the notion that an interdisciplinary treatment modality is especially effective when treating high utilizer patients in order to provide cost-effective, quality care; a finding that is especially important as the financial burden of health care in the US continues to grow and more than 100 million Americans suffer from chronic pain, according to the researchers.

“This research shows a clear path forward in containing the cost of an ever-expanding population. Reproducing effective treatment modalities such as that of the Medical Pain Service, which dramatically reduces hospital system costs, may well lead the way to successful health care cost containment in the future,” Steven Prakken, MD, lead author of the study and a pain medicine specialist at Duke Health, MPS, said in a press release about the findings.


Poster 181 — Cost savings associated with intensive outpatient pain management of Duke Health System high utilizers. Presented at: American Academy of Pain Medicine 33rd Annual Meeting. Mar. 16-19, 2017. Orlando, Florida.

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