The Center for Health, Work & Environment, at the Colorado School of Public Health, and the Colorado Consortium for Prescription Drug Abuse Prevention have released an online course that educates healthcare professionals in Colorado about the latest opioid prescription guidelines and best practices for treating patients in pain. Originally developed in 2012, the updated course, “The Guidelines and Tools for Improving Pain Management: Opioid Stewardship,” has been redesigned to reflect current federal, state, and professional association guidelines, incorporate new research, and provide guidance about how to treat specific populations including workers and pregnant patients.

More than 2,800 people have taken the previous version of the course and 90 percent say that they have applied what they learned in the training in their healthcare practice.

“We are starting to bend the curve on the opioid epidemic and have better guidelines for improving the management of patients’ pain,” said Lee Newman, MD, MA, director of the Center for Health, Work & Environment and professor at the University of Colorado (CU) Anschutz Medical Campus. “This new, self-paced course brings practitioners and their staff up to date with practical advice from experts right here in Colorado.”

Working together, teams at the center and the consortium have combined their collective expertise into this course. Their goal is to ensure that healthcare workers in Colorado stay informed about how to provide excellent patient care, help patients manage their pain safely and effectively, and curb opioid misuse in their communities.

“Providers truly are on the frontlines of the opioid crisis. Getting them the latest, most accurate information will lead to safer prescribing practices and more effective treatment for patients,” said Robert Valuck, PhD, RPh, director of the Colorado Consortium for Prescription Drug Abuse Prevention and professor at the CU Anschutz Medical Campus.

Every member of a care team can enroll in this course. The audience ranges from physicians and nurses to dentists and pharmacists. The online, self-paced format is designed to appeal to busy health professionals, especially those in rural communities. More than a quarter of past participants are from rural areas. Learners can review materials and complete assignments at their own pace wherever they are located in the state, whether that is in a small mountain town or a major city in Colorado.

“Courses like this will help us reach providers where they are, allowing them to gain vital knowledge in a way that fits into their busy schedules,” said Valuck.

Reversing the opioid epidemic sweeping across Colorado and the nation will be no easy feat. But experts from the center and the consortium believe that educating healthcare providers about evidence-based, nonaddictive ways to manage patients’ pain is a big step in the right direction.

Guest Contributor:  Avery Artman, Colorado School of Public Health