According to “Relieving Pain in America,” a new report
released today by the National Academies' Institute of Medicine (IOM), over 100 million Americans suffer chronic pain costing the nation around $600 billion each year in medical expenses and lost productivity. The report concludes that the effective treatment of pain demands a cultural transformation on the part of patients, physicians and researchers.
The report addresses the complex issues at play in improving pain care and lays out a blueprint for improving this area of medicine. ASCO applauded its findings noting that pain management is one facet of ASCO's larger initiative to address patient care and needs in an individualized manner. Pain management, advance care planning, patient decision making about treatment options and patient and caregiver support are all important aspects of care for cancer patients.
The report underscores the importance of hospice and palliative care programs to improve patient outcomes as well as the need to refer patients to hospice earlier in a patient’s trajectory of care. It also calls on Medicare, Medicaid and private insurers to find ways to cover interdisciplinary pain care that affects 65 to 85 percent of people with metastatic cancer. ASCO supports such efforts to improve and enhance the reimbursement system to ensure policies foster coordinated care for patients.