The Key to Health Equity: Multi-Stakeholder Engagement, with an Emphasis on Patient Voices
Anyone who lives with chronic pain—or cares about someone who does—knows that treatment can be complex, time-consuming, and costly. At the start of 2023, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) took a major step toward eliminating some of those obstacles when it debuted the first-ever specialized billing codes for chronic pain management in the Medicare program.
The 2022 annual Transgender Day of Remembrance and Resilience was also the day of one of the worst hate crimes against LGBTQ+ people in recent memory: the mass shooting at Club Q in Colorado Springs. Sara Gehrig, who leads U.S. Pain Foundation’s LGBTQ+ support group, knew that the members of her group would be reeling from the news.
Managing a chronic pain condition can be a full-time job. In addition to living with symptoms on a daily basis, individuals living with pain must find providers, understand health insurance, attend appointments, pick up prescriptions, make phone calls, pay bills, and more. But if managing pain and seeking health care is complicated and time-consuming for someone with a single diagnosis, what is it like for those living with multiple conditions?
Mental health is often inextricably linked to the chronic pain experience. One aspect of chronic pain that is sometimes overlooked is the mental health of caregivers or care partners. Like the patients they care for, care partners are also faced with mental-health challenges: many share their feelings of frustration, hopelessness, and depression at navigating a broken health care system, compounded by limited sleep and, often, difficulty getting time for themselves.