The state of Rhode Island’s Medicaid program has been coordinating a special pilot project in which high use, chronic pain recipients have access to Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM) providers such as chiropractors, massage therapists, and acupuncturists. These recipients also receive patient education regarding healthier lifestyles, stress reduction, and more.
According to the program administrator, most of these patients have severe economic hardship and marked challenges across the spectrum of physiological/psychological/social disorders. As a result, these patients have many more emergency room visits than other patients.
Despite this high care/high cost patient population, an analysis shows that those who enrolled in the CAM pilot program showed dramatic improvement in all categories. Some examples include (numbers are per patient averages):
- Annual prescriptions were reduced from over 70 to under 26. Opioid prescriptions went from 7.7 to 1.1.
- Emergency room visits declined from 7.6 to under 3.
- The average claims cost was reduced from $19,457 to $14,151.
- Patient satisfaction improved significantly, with 92% of enrollees “agreeing or strongly agreeing” that their CAM provider reduced their pain intensity, and 82% noting a “quality of life” improvement. A whopping 96% stated they would recommend the program to friends and family.
More and more research is showing the effectiveness (both clinically and financially) and safety of chiropractic treatment. And with the opioid epidemic showing little sign of letting up, the fewer people who start with pain medications, the better.