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Health Agencies Update
March 24/31, 2020

New Resource for Managing Patients Receiving Long-term Opioid Therapy

JAMA. 2020;323(12):1123. doi:10.1001/jama.2020.3017

The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) recently updated a toolkit for primary care practices who treat patients with chronic pain who take opioids. As AHRQ noted, most patients taking opioids for chronic pain are managed by primary care practitioners and their staffs.

The Self-Service How-To Guide helps practices implement the Six Building Blocks, a team-based approach developed with AHRQ funding to improve care for patients receiving long-term opioid treatment. The building blocks in the program’s title refer to 6 key practice areas, which include tracking and monitoring patients using long-term opioid therapy and identifying resources for complex patients. The Six Building Blocks program was developed in response to prescription opioid overuse and the resulting increase in overdoses and opioid use disorder.

“Finding the balance between alleviating pain and ensuring that patients use opioid painkillers appropriately and safely is one of the most challenging jobs facing our doctors and nurses,” Michael Parchman, MD, MPH, who led the development of the Six Building Blocks program, said in a statement. Parchman is a senior investigator at the MacColl Center for Health Care Innovation, Kaiser Permanente Washington Health Research Institute in Seattle.

AHRQ is funding a study that will evaluate the Self-Service How-To Guide. After the study is finished, the agency will release a final version of the guide, expected in early 2021.