Consistent with international trends, rates of opioid prescribing continue to increase across the nation. Opioids are high risk medicines and opioid-related harm is well known. Enhancing opioid stewardship requires the ability to share expertise, knowledge and data across the health system.
In late 2021, the Statewide Chronic Pain Clinical Network hosted an Opioid Roundtable to discuss how opioids are currently used to manage pain and consider what could be done to ensure they are used as safely and effectively as possible.
The roundtable told us that good opioid stewardship consists of:
- Active collaboration across all aspects of the health sector to deliver a coordinated approach to planning and follow-up.
- Safe prescription of medication that is supported by robust discharge planning and high-quality education for clinicians, consumers and the community.
- Normalising pain and setting appropriate treatment expectations which are then supported by timely access to alternative services and a personalised ‘Whole Package of Care’ including psychological and physical therapies.
- Optimising electronic systems and data access to improve practice and patient outcomes.
- Balancing the tension between decision support and oversight.
- An evidence informed Statewide Framework/Pain Management Plan.
Participants also discussed how we would measure success and suggested the following next steps:
- Establish a working group as a collaboration between the Statewide Chronic Pain Clinical Network and the Chief Pharmacist to inform representation to the Statewide Clinical Governance Strategic Group.
- Explore drivers that can enhance the position of pain management as a key priority. The primary areas that were identified for this work included:
Following the Roundtable, the Statewide Chronic Pain Clinical Network and the Office of the Chief Pharmacist have established a collaboration and will bring together the suggested working group to oversee work to improve opioid stewardship.
Scoping work has also commenced to improve the transition between acute and non-acute services to ensure people receive care in the most appropriate setting.
A small working group led by the clinical informatics team at CEIH is also reviewing potential data sources to analyse the top five opioid-related impacts on the health system, as identified by the roundtable.
To read about more about the Network and its projects, see Statewide Chronic Pain Clinical Network.