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Transformative Care for Preventing Chronic Pain and Addiction

Chronic pain is a top reason to seek care, the number one cause of addiction and disability, and the primary driver of health care utilization, costing more than cancer, heart disease, and diabetes. As a result, the nationwide chronic pain and opioid crisis is having a devastating personal effect on individuals, families, and communities, and imposing enormous financial costs on federal, state, and local governments.

To reverse the chronic pain and opioid crisis, respected national health care institutions such as the Institute of Medicine, the National Pain Strategy, the Institute for Clinical System Integration, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Pain Management Best Practices Inter-Agency Task Force have all recommended that health professionals include preventive self-management training in their care of all patients with pain conditions.

In 2019, James Fricton, DDS, MS, professor in the School of Dentistry, worked with colleagues in the Medical School, School of Public Health, and the Earl E. Bakken Center for Spirituality and Healing to launch a course based on the model of transformative care. The project established educational partnerships with community health clinics and providers within Minnesota.

“Transformative care is an innovative model of care that is sustainable, scalable, reimbursed, and easily integrated into routine care. It offers patients a comprehensive self-management training program using a telehealth coaching team and technology-based patient engagement platform called Personalized Activated Care and Training, or PACT,” said Fricton. “The PACT example demonstrates how technology and telehealth coaching can become a crucial part of routine care.”

Transformative care addresses the opioid, addiction, and chronic pain crises, access to telehealth care in rural outstate Minnesota, health care burnout, and escalating health care costs. Through webinar and in-person courses offered in 2019 and 2020, participants learn how to implement patient-centered transformative care treatment plans in their clinical practices.

 “Transformative care helps transform patients of all ages from pain and illness to health and wellbeing through engagement in self-care training to reduce risk factors and implement protective actions in all seven realms of a person’s life—including body, mind, spirit, emotions, lifestyle, social life, and environment,” explained Fricton. “Transformative care employs a human systems theory of health to advance team-based patient care using telehealth coaching–a new discipline that is outside the traditional health sciences.”

This initiative received funding from the Office of Academic Clinical Affairs BOLD Ideas Grant program which supports interdisciplinary teams seeking to tackle the complex problems inhibiting the health and wellbeing of our communities.

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