Since the mid-1990s, more than 500,000 deaths have been attributed to the opioid overdose epidemic, which has created a serious national crisis affecting public health and social and economic welfare. To mitigate these opioid-related overdoses and deaths, interventions targeted at both the patient and community level are needed.
This demonstration project sought to determine whether implementation of a provider-to-provider opioid pain teleconsultation service with a pain specialist was correlated with a reduction in inappropriate opioid use and improve health outcomes.
Individual-level claims data for Health First Colorado Medicaid members were collected between March 1, 2017, and September 30, 2021, for individuals who triggered a provider-to-provider pain management teleconsultation based on receipt of a prescription for an opioid where the member was receiving a high-dose opioid (n = 125) or was opioid-naive (n = 819). The primary outcome measures were a patient’s opioid dose less than 200 morphine milligram equivalent (MME) by 6 months after the consult if consult was triggered for high-dose use or discontinuation of an opioid by 12 weeks after consult if the consult was triggered for opioid naivety. Secondary opioid-related health outcomes were also assessed.
In the high-dose opioid cohort, 87% of the members had their monthly average MME reduced to less than 200 by 180 days after their consult. More than half of the opioid-naive group had discontinued their opioid by 90 days after their consult.
Results indicate that provider-to-provider teleconsultation services with a pain specialist can be an effective intervention at reducing total inappropriate opioid use.

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