Electronic data joins the fight against persistent pain
NSW Health has launched an electronic Persistent Pain Outcomes Collaboration (ePPOC) benchmarking exercise to help analyse which treatments are the most effective for the one in five Australians with persistent (chronic) pain.
Ten public hospitals in NSW along with several hospitals in other states are taking part in the pilot project, which will enable benchmarking of the treatment approaches which are used by different pain centres and clinics throughout Australia.
The ePPOC project will collect and analyse data on how patients’ function improves during their treatment process.
Elizabeth Carrigan, CEO of the Australian Pain Management Association (APMA), said evidence-based treatment is always the most effective in managing persistent pain.
“ePPOC will assist pain specialists to understand effective pain management treatments and how they can best be used to help their patients to regain their quality of life,” Ms Carrigan said.
“Particularly, the data will assist in understanding how self-management approaches develop the knowledge, skills and confidence for individuals to tackle pain on an ongoing basis, helping them to become independent again.”
The data for the ePPOC project will be submitted electronically by participating pain clinics at three-monthly intervals to a team at the University of Wollongong (UOW). The UOW team, which has extensive experience in developing and managing national benchmarking systems, will analyse the data and then make it available to pain centres and medical practitioners.
Outcomes data for rehabilitation and palliative care has been collected and national benchmarking to improve clinical outcomes is underway.
Just as pain can be caused by a number of different factors such as illness, injury or surgery, different treatments work best for different people. Currently, GPs and pain specialists must use their individual knowledge and clinical experience to create pain management plans for their patients.
The organisers of the ePPOC project hope it will provide practitioners with the most accurate, evidence-based collective data from pain clinics around Australia. This will enable medical practitioners to provide the best possible short-term and ongoing pain-management care for their patients.
By comparing patient outcomes from different public and private facilities throughout Australia, the ePPOC project will facilitate understanding of best practice in pain management.
It will analyse improvements in specific physical and psychological areas, including physical function, psychological distress and pain catastrophising, in both children and adults with persistent pain. Project researchers expect that several thousand people will be represented through the project by the end of 2013.
“APMA has always encouraged people with persistent pain to work with a team of medical professionals to develop an ongoing self-management plan for their persistent pain,” Ms Carrigan said.
“This team typically includes a GP, physiotherapist and psychologist and may include other specialists as well, such as an exercise physiologist, nutritionist or occupational therapist.
“The ePPOC project will equip not only pain clinics to help patients to develop initial skills, but will provide information to support practice development over time. By its very nature, persistent pain often continues for years, so people need a long-term management strategy.”
The ePPOC project is funded by NSW Health as a key component of the NSW government’s Pain Plan and is an initiative of the NSW Agency for Clinical Innovation. The ACI's pain management network played a pivotal role in the development of the plan, which will see NSW Health contribute $26 million over the next four years to support the development of new pain management services in regional areas, to enhance existing teaching hospital services and to support research into persistent pain.
The Australian Health Services Research Institute (AHSRI) at the University of Wollongong is running the project, led by its director, Kathy Eagar.
ePPOC researchers hope that interest will grow during the next few years, with more public and private pain clinics throughout Australia and New Zealand signing up to participate.
Karyn Markwell is the media manager for the Australian Pain Management Association.
Posted in Allied Health