Purpose: This pilot project evaluated whether the pain assessment instrument Brief Pain Inventory (BPI) embedded in the Electronic Medical Record (EMR) used by providers in a primary care setting of Fort Belvoir Community Hospital would improve documentation of pain assessments.
Background/significance: The Office of the Surgeon General’s Pain Management Task Force (PMTF) determined that pain management in the military treatment system should have a biopsychosocial focus and pain assessments reflect a multidisciplinary approach. Health-information technology, such as electronic health records, has the potential to facilitate the assessment of pain through the incorporation of valid pain assessment tools that would provide a comprehensive and timely assessment of pain patients.
Methods: This project used a quasi-experimental design using non equivalent groups to determine the difference, if any, in pain assessment documentation after the introduction of a pain assessment documentation tool, the Brief Pain Inventory (BPI), as a template embedded into the existing EMR.
Results: The data was aggregated and summarized and a paired t-test was used to compare results between patient encounters pre- and post-implementation of the BPI. Strong evidence demonstrated a high effectiveness of the BPI to improve pain assessment documentation, particularly in the area of patient functioning: general activity, walking, work, mood, enjoyment of life, relations with others, and sleep.
Conclusion: Embedding a validated tool for comprehensive pain assessment in an EMR enables providers to perform a comprehensive assessment of pain patients that reflects a multidisciplinary approach to pain management.
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