The University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS) received a $147,000 grant from the Blue & You Foundation for a Healthier Arkansas to expand a program to fight opioid addiction around the state through use of its digital health network.
The money will help support UAMS AR-IMPACT (Arkansas Improving Multidisciplinary Pain Care Treatment), a program that connects physicians to a UAMS team by live video to discuss how to effectively manage their patients’ chronic pain and reduce dependency on opioids.
The grant will be used to expand the service to the UAMS regional campuses around the state using the live-streaming network of the UAMS Institute for Digital Health & Innovation.
Arkansas ranks second in the nation for its opioid prescribing rate with an average of 102.1 prescriptions per 100 people, according to an annual report released in 2018 by the Arkansas prescription drug monitoring program.
As of December, AR-IMPACT had issued 2,347 continuing medication education credits to 785 clinicians over nearly two years.
Recent data from Arkansas’ prescription drug monitoring program has shown a measurable decline in opioid prescriptions.
Arkansas residents received more than 3.2 million opioid prescriptions in 2018, according to the program’s annual report. Between 2016 and 2018, the total number of opioid pills sold in Arkansas decreased by 21% – from 236 million to 186 million.
“The Blue & You Foundation is pleased to continue its support of the AR-IMPACT program,” said Patrick O’Sullivan, the foundation’s executive director. “AR-IMPACT has quickly established itself as an essential component to helping Arkansas physicians and others deal with a nationwide problem. We’re proud to have UAMS as a prominent partner in helping improve the health of Arkansans.”
The AR-IMPACT program was launched in 2018 through a partnership between UAMS, the Arkansas Medical Society, the Arkansas Academy of Family Medicine, the Arkansas Department of Health, Arkansas State Medical Board, Arkansas Blue Cross, and the state drug director.
“UAMS is tackling the opioid epidemic head-on, in a way that no one else in the country is doing that we’re aware of,” said UAMS Chancellor Cam Patterson, M.D., MBA. “This brings the combined experience of a multidisciplinary team of experts directly to UAMS locations across the entire state. I want to thank the Blue & You Foundation for its continued support of this groundbreaking program.”
The video conferences are helpful particularly for rural health care providers, who do not always have access to larger clinics and hospitals for consultations or referrals. Clinicians can attend live sessions or review recordings of the presentations and discussions online. The end goal is to effectively manage chronic pain and reduce dependency on opioids, UAMS said.
Arkansas Blue Cross established the charitable Blue & You Foundation in 2001.