Stanford University’s new Gastrointestinal Pain Program is showing how efficient communication between Gastroenterologists & Pain Management specialists can lead to better results for patients.
It’s all too often that patients with chronic conditions find themselves in the position of treatment manager, coordinating communications between their general practitioner & the multiple specialists they may have to see. Patients in this situation will often feel lost in a sea of doctors appointments, ensuring tests & medical records get transferred properly as well as researching & managing their own illness. Those patients may also feel as though no one in the medical community is really taking a lead in ensuring their wellbeing as often doctors who don’t work within the same medical practice(or even those who do) are distant, with communication not being their strong suit.
Stanford’s GI Pain Program looks to change this by closely integrating two overlapping treatment programs, their Gastroentrology program & their Pain Management program. By requiring that Gastroenterologists & Pain Management specialists work closely with each other to craft a treatment management plan, patient outcomes can be improved & patient stress can be reduced.
[Prof. Ravi] Prasad said, patients “can feel lost in the system. People were getting helped, but that lack of communication was distressing. Now, when they know that their providers are talking with each other, they’re a lot more satisfied. You can feel like you’re getting the runaround when you’re shuttled back and forth.”
The program is coming into full swing at the same time that a recent pain management study by the National Academies’ Institute of Medicine suggests that many doctors are not well versed in pain management & more needs to be done to improve both research & doctors understanding. Dr. Linda Nguyen who works in the GI Motility & Neurogastroenterology division at Stanford has concerns over doctors ignoring long term pain in their patients who have digestive illnesses.
“…if you look at patients who come to me with chronic GI pain, half of them will also be experiencing anxiety and depression because of that pain. And we know that very common disorders like irritable bowel syndrome are made worse by that anxiety and depression.”
The Stanford GI Pain Program sounds like a step in the right direction to improving patient care & may be a model that can be replicated elsewhere as well.