In the ongoing fight against the abuse of opioids, the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences has launched a free weekly education and consultation service for Arkansas health-care providers, Gov. Asa Hutchinson announced at a press conference Monday.
The AR-IMPACT (Arkansas Improving Multidisciplinary Pain Care Treatment) partnership includes the UAMS, the Office of the State Drug Director, the Arkansas Department of Health, the Arkansas Department of Human Services, the Arkansas State Medical Board, Blue Cross-Blue Shield, the Arkansas Medical Society and the Arkansas Academy of Family Physicians.
“This education portal for doctors is an important new weapon in the fight against this terrible epidemic that is killing hundreds of Arkansans every year,” Hutchinson said. “It is not an exaggeration to call this epidemic one of our state’s greatest challenges. Today we understand more about opioid drugs than we did a decade ago. With that advanced knowledge, we must utilize every tool possible to pass along this information to doctors so that we can save lives and spare more patients the tragedy of addiction.”
AR-IMPACT will provide weekly seminars at noon on Wednesdays that feature specialists in the treatment of pain and addiction, a physical therapist, a psychologist, and pharmacists who are trained in opioid-related issues. After the presentation, doctors may join via teleconference to discuss cases for individualized feedback about approaches to treatment.
The 16 professionals in the opioid-epidemic crisis who joined the governor at the press conference at the state capitol included UAMS Interim Chancellor Stephanie Gardner, who accepted a $104,000 check from Blue-Cross-Blue Shield.
“We are thankful to Arkansas Blue Cross and Blue Shield for their partnership as we work to improve pain management in Arkansas through UAMS AR-IMPACT,” Chancellor Gardner said. “As the state’s only health sciences university, UAMS is uniquely positioned to address this issue head on for the betterment of all Arkansans.”
Curtis Barnett, president and CEO of Arkansas Blue Cross, presented the check.
“Arkansas Blue Cross recognizes that the opioid epidemic threatens the health of the people of Arkansas in many ways,” Barnett said. “For those in chronic pain and for those treating them, there is no easy solution. We already have been working with health-care providers to help get a better understanding of opioid prescribing patterns in Arkansas. We believe the new AR-IMPACT education program with UAMS will help doctors learn about resources and alternatives to managing pain. It will take everyone working together to truly impact this crisis.”
Kirk Lane, Director of the State Drug Office, said the epidemic is a priority.
“As drug director, I’ve talked with so many families who have been impacted, and it is clear that this crisis respects no class, race or income boundaries,” Lane said. “It is evident that a collaborative approach is necessary to change the direction of this epidemic. We will make that difference with education and the willingness to change.”
Those who wish to utilize the AR-IMPACT portal must register at www.arimpact.uams.edu.
In photo, Arkansas Blue Cross President Curtis Barnett awards a check to UAMS Interim Chancellor Stephanie Gardner as Gov. Asa Hutchinson looks on.