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Telehealth program links health care clinicians in Connecticut and Arizona

The Community Health Center, which operates clinics in New London and Groton, on Friday announced the launch of telehealth program linking health care clinicians in Connecticut and Arizona with one of the nation’s leading chronic pain management facilities.

On Thursday, clinicians working in CHC’s primary care sites around Connecticut and at El Rio Community Health Center in Tucson, Arizona, will be linked up via video conferencing to pain management experts in Arizona. This will be the first of what will be weekly telemedicine consultations aimed at improving management for patients suffering from chronic pain, CHC said in a news release. In a first-of-its-kind health center- based program, CHC, which is based in Middletown and operates clinics in 14 communities around the state, is partnering with Integrated Pain Center of Arizona to mine their expertise in providing evidence-based, holistic, patient-centered treatment for chronic pain, which has reached epidemic proportions in this country, CHC said.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, one out of six Americans (50 million people) experiences some kind of chronic pain during the year, and the majority will seek treatment in a primary care center such as CHC. Studies show that chronic pain costs the nation 50 million lost days of work, 750 thousand hospitalizations per year and increased incidents of depression and prescription drug abuse.

Modeled after CHC’s successful Project ECHO telehealth program for Hepatitis C and HIV, Dr. Daren Anderson, vice president, chief quality officer at CHC, and his team developed Project Next Steps – Project ECHO for Chronic Pain Management with the idea that effective chronic pain management requires expertise from a variety of disciplines.

“There is no single approach to managing chronic pain,” he said. “This format will bring together experts in pharmacology, behavioral health, primary care and alternative therapies, offering myriad solutions to this complex issue, based on the needs of each individual patient – and the broad range of expertise from multiple clinicians.”

If successful, Project ECHO for Chronic Pain Management could decrease utilization of specialty referral services, surgery, imaging and other laboratory services, excessive or inappropriate medication prescribing, and emergency room visits for pain complaints, among others, CHC said.

The project is funded in part by grants from the Pfizer Foundation, the Mayday Fund, the Cox Foundation, and The Wallace Research Foundation.




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