Practice Improvement

Tools to help address the opioid epidemic

Research and tools to help patients, providers and health systems put evidence into practice.

Once effective interventions have been identified, AHRQ projects and grants develop and test tools and strategies to implement what works for practice improvement and patient safety.

Clinical Decision Support

CDS Connect demonstrates how evidence-based care can be more rapidly incorporated into clinical practice through interoperable decision support. CDS Connect has built several of its projects around helping patients, clinicians, and health systems respond to the opioids crisis.

  • The Pain Dashboard gives providers a "dashboard" of relevant medical record data and decision support to guide individualized chronic pain management.
  • Opioids and Pain Management artifacts facilitate integration of recommendations from the CDC 2016 Opioid Prescribing Guidelines directly into an EHR.

Patient Centered Clinical Decision Support (PCCDS)

PCCDS is CDS that supports individual patients and their approved care givers and/or care teams in health-related decisions and actions by leveraging information from PCOR findings and/or patient-specific information. The PCCDS has released a Stakeholder-driven Action Plan (PDF) for Improving Pain Management, Opioid Use, and Opioid Use Disorder Treatment Through Patient-Centered Clinical Decision Support. Highlights of the report include:

  • 19 PCCDS tools that support patient care for pain, opioids, and opioid use disorder (OUD).
  • 5 Future Scenarios that illustrate the uses of PCCDS for pain management and opioids.
  • 11 stakeholder groups and recommended actions for them to improve care through PCCDS.
  • 4 areas in which PCCDS implementation efforts are already underway.

A Team-Based Approach to Improving Opioid Management in Primary Care

Six Building Blocks is a structured systems-based approach for improving management of patients on chronic opioid therapy.  The Six Building Blocks program provides an evidence-based quality improvement roadmap to help primary care teams implement effective, guideline-driven care for their chronic pain and long-term opioid therapy patients.

Integrating Behavioral Health and Primary Care 

The Academy for Integrating Behavioral Health and Primary Care Opioid & Substance Use Resources has developed several resources for providers treating opioid use disorder in primary care practices, including:

  • Implementing Medication-Assisted Treatment for Opioid Use Disorder in Rural Primary Care includes an Environmental Scan (PDF, 609 KB) and Tools and Resources (PDF, 812 KB) to support those in primary care settings who are implementing medication-assisted treatment (MAT) for opioid use disorder.
  • The Academy’s Expert Insight page includes articles, blog posts, success stories, videos, and webcasts about managing Opioid Use Disorder in Primary Care.
  • Increasing Access to MAT in Rural Primary Care Practices is a cooperative grant program provides access to MAT to more than 20,000 individuals struggling with opioid addiction using innovative technology, including patient-controlled smart phone apps and remote training and expert consultation using Project ECHO—a telehealth program started with AHRQ support that links specialists at an academic hub to primary care providers working on the frontlines in rural communities.

Making Naloxone available in communities

Protect.org is a grantee-developed resource designed for people seeking to learn about or obtain naloxone in their community, and for community based organizations and leaders to improve awareness of and access to naloxone for their communities.  The site provides:

Journal Publications

AHRQ-funded studies on opioids that appear in academic journals are summarized on the  AHRQ Research Studies page.

Page last reviewed May 2019
Page originally created September 2018
Internet Citation: Practice Improvement. Content last reviewed May 2019. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, Rockville, MD. https://www.ahrq.gov/opioids/practice-improvement.html
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