U-M, MDHHS launch one-stop website to guide safe pain treatment across Michigan and beyond

Online toolkit for health providers and patients provides evidence-based guidance to make pain care safer, prevent opioid-related harms and link to substance use treatment.

November 14, 2019
Written By:
Kara Gavin

Image of pill bottleANN ARBOR—No matter where in Michigan they are, people in pain will soon have a chance to get effective care with less risk of opioid-related problems, thanks to a new website launched by the CDC-funded University of Michigan Injury Prevention Center and the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services.

The Michigan Safer Opioid Prescribing Toolkit offers evidence-based guidance for health care providers and patients alike. It aims to guide safe use of opioid pain medications and effective use of nonopioid pain treatments.

Created by the U-M Injury Prevention Center under a contract with the state, the new online resource draws on research by U-M teams and others, and on input from pain care specialists, people with chronic and acute pain, and other stakeholders. The IPC’s main funding comes from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The toolkit includes everything from evidence-based guides for how many opioid and nonopioid painkiller doses patients typically need after different types of operations to materials that can help guide conversations about tapering off of long-term opioid treatment in favor of other treatments. It also offers information about effective treatments for opioid use disorders, as well as resources for aiding clinicians to link patients to available services in Michigan.

“We are thrilled to partner with the University of Michigan to help get this important tool out to clinicians,” said Joneigh Khaldun, MDHHS chief medical executive and chief deputy for health. “We all have a role to play in preventing opioid use disorder and making sure physicians and patients have what they need to prevent this disease and get access to treatment.”

Although opioid prescriptions have dropped 25% in Michigan since 2013, prescription opioid overprescribing, misuse and dependence are still major issues for the state and nation.

“We hope this toolkit will be a great real-time clinical resource for practicing clinicians to access a variety of tools and resources about all aspects of the prescription opioid epidemic,” said Eve Losman, a U-M emergency medicine physician and member of the IPC.

Losman co-led the development of the toolkit with Quyen Ngo, a U-M substance use prevention researcher, and Patrick Carter, IPC associate director and an emergency physician.

“It contains materials for both the practicing clinician and materials that they can provide to their patients to help them understand key components of managing pain, decreasing the potential harms and consequences of opioids, as well as managing patients who have substance use dependence,” Losman said.

Carter said the toolkit “fills a need that providers identified across the state in understanding how they could address the opioid epidemic in their own practices. Providers also identified a need to understand the recent laws that have been passed in Michigan and how to comply with them in their own practice.”

IPC and MDHHS began the process of creating the toolkit by conducting a needs assessment to understand what topics would be most relevant to practicing clinicians. IPC carried out a comprehensive review of all safer opioid prescribing toolkits currently available and a comprehensive literature review to understand what resources required updating.

Based on these reviews and the needs assessment, specific content was curated or developed for the Michigan Safer Opioid Prescribing Toolkit. Feedback was sought from experts in the field and practicing primary care providers to ensure usability, applicability and relevance for a practicing clinician.

Some of the content included in the toolkit was created by other U-M-based teams, including the Michigan Opioid Prescribing and Engagement Network, which has developed evidence-based surgical opioid prescribing recommendations, and the Michigan Opioid Collaborative, an effort to build a statewide network to help Michigan prescribers use Medication Assisted Treatment for patients with opioid use disorder.

The toolkit has been specifically designed to provide Michigan primary care providers and their patients and/or families with the most up-to-date resources, guidelines and strategies for managing acute and chronic pain. However, while the toolkit was developed with this focus, the information contained in this toolkit has broad applicability and can be used by a range of Michigan, and non-Michigan clinicians, including surgeons, dentists, specialty providers and allied health professionals in relevant fields.

In addition to the toolkit, U-M recently launched a free online course to teach health professionals of all kinds about opioids and the opioid epidemic.