Thomas E. Novotny, M.D., M.P.H.
Deputy Assistant Secretary for Health (Science and Medicine)

The National Pain Strategy Implementation Meeting began with Dr. Thomas Novotny, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Health at HHS, welcoming everyone (approximately 40 people attended; many others joined by phone). He shared that, although they are still forming their team, progress is being made. He also was pleased to share that, although the new Secretary of Health and Human Services, Dr. Thomas Price, has clearly indicated that the opioid epidemic is one of his priorities, Dr. Price has mentioned the National Pain Strategy (NPS) on at least two occasions in prominent meetings. Linda Porter, from the National Institute for Neurological Disorders and Stroke at NIH and co-chair of the NPS Oversight Committee who is also working closely with Dr. Novotny on implementation of the NPS, spoke next and gave an update on data regarding chronic pain and shared that the NIH Interagency Pain Research Coordinating Committee (IPRCC) website now has a page dedicated to the NPS and that they are tracking NPS “deliverables.”  Following Dr. Porter’s remarks were reports regarding four sections of the NPS.  Those who presented are listed below.

  • Population Health and Evaluation
  • Charles Helmick, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
  • Michael Von Korff, Group Health Research Institute
  • Richard Nahin, National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health
  • Prevention and Care
  • Richard Ricciardi, Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality
  • Robert Kerns, Yale University (retiree, VA)
  • Chester (Trip) Buckenmaier, Department of Defense
  • Elizabeth Kato, Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality
  • Service Delivery and Payment
  • Christopher Jones, Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation
  • Catherine Underwood, American Pain Society
  • Professional Education and Training
  • Scott Fishman, University of California, Davis
  • Dave Thomas, National Institute on Drug Abuse
  • Sharon Hertz, Food and Drug Administration

A facilitated discussion with external stakeholders on their existing or upcoming implementation activities to advance the NPS followed these presentations.  Sean Mackey, co-chair of the NPS Oversight Committee, spoke about a pain patient registry being established at Stanford. Stephanie Sutherland, a freelance writer, spoke about her work about chronic pain.  Steven Stanos, President of the American Academy of Pain Medicine, spoke about a pain “boot camp” at Swedish Hospital in Seattle focused on functional restoration. Clydette Powell from the Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion at HHS spoke about the impact of an interactive CME on opioid prescribing, “Pathways to Safer Opioid Use” and the desire to expand its impact.  Bruce Schoneboom from the American Association of Nurse Anesthetists spoke about a 12-month post graduate certificate program AANA is sponsoring. Myra Christopher, Director of PAINS, spoke about No Longer Silent, a public education/communication campaign PAINS is launching.  She encouraged all those present to adopt for their own use NLS’ core message that:

Comprehensive chronic pain care will improve the lives of millions of Americans, save billions of dollars each year and reduce opioid abuse.

Dr. Novotny wrapped up the meeting by thanking everyone for the work they are doing and their commitment to the National Pain Strategy.  He asked participants to keep them apprised of activities and progress related to the NPS and indicated that HHS would convene a similar meeting in the Fall.