What Adventist Health is Doing to Increase Opioid Safety

June 1, 2023


In the last decade, health systems across the country have become increasingly aware of the need to manage pain without relying solely on opioids. At Adventist Health, we’ve made concerted efforts to shift to a more holistic approach to pain management.

Over the last several years, our Opioid Stewardship Committee has assessed best practices, guidelines, national trends and opioid prescribing at Adventist Health. In response, we’ve developed programs that support opioid safety and a more comprehensive approach to pain management. In 2018, we adopted an Opioid Care Transformation Project that used data to analyze our prescribing patterns and monitor quality measures.

This year, we’ve partnered with CO*RE REMS, a national grant-funded program that brings opioid education and training to our medical providers. This partnership builds upon our goals to keep patients as safe as possible while providing the pain management they need.

Training safe prescribers

CO*RE was founded by ten professional healthcare organizations, including the California Academy of Family Physicians (CAFP). The organization provides continuing education to physicians, nurse practitioners, physician assistants and other healthcare professionals across the country.

Through our partnership with CO*RE REMS, Adventist Health has identified opioid steward champions throughout our system. These professionals have undergone certification to train other clinicians in the CO*RE REMS safe prescribing curriculum. These champions will deliver trainings in person and through recorded sessions that all clinicians across the organization will attend.

“Not only will this training help clinicians with best practices in pain management, but it will also help us maintain compliance with our medical boards,” said Raul Ayala, MD, family medicine physician and current president of CAFP. “Every clinician is expected to have eight hours of opioid training on safe prescribing. After training, all Adventist Health medical providers will be certified as safe prescribers.”

Holistic pain management

The CO*RE REMS curriculum helps clinicians understand the physiology of pain and offers multiple pain management methods, including both medication-based and non-medication-based strategies. The comprehensive program also helps providers understand how to recognize substance use disorders and how to help patients.

“When patients think about pain, they often only think about pain medication,” said Dr. Ayala. “But making a proper assessment and a holistic treatment plan opens up a range of other options. Strategies like physical therapy, occupational therapy, strength training, yoga, optimizing your nutrition, massage or even water therapy can all be effective.” Properly diagnosing and managing other underlying health conditions, including mental health disorders, is also important.

If you deal with chronic pain or have been prescribed an opioid, talk with your provider about other treatment options. There may be alternatives that can bring effective pain relief. To find an Adventist Health provider, visit adventisthealth.org/doctors