October 9, 2017 | Submitted by Ameet Nagpal, MD, MS, MEd, FAAPMR
Ultimately, the goal of our specialty as a whole is to achieve functional gains, and it is easy to take our mind off of this metric as we treat patients with chronic pain. It is important to remember that these patients are carrying the burden of their disease, and the majority of them are not seeking opioids because they are addicted, but because they truly feel better when they take them. It is up to us as providers to prescribe opioids safely and judiciously when warranted, but also to not prescribe them simply because of the oncoming satisfaction/experience movement. We can improve upon our patients’ experiences without sacrificing quality of care, but it means that we must educate our patients—and society—on the value of evidence-based care. Without the direct understanding of the patient that the treatment you are offering is a superior treatment to the one that they believe is working, patients will never “rate us high.” We need to better ourselves as a community, to take quality improvement seriously, and to educate society. This outlook may seem hopeful at best and delusional at worst, but by embracing these concepts, our clinic has been able to alter the trajectory of our patient experience scores and, ultimately… move the needle.