Health Professional News

Children’s Minnesota expanding access to pediatric pain services

Children’s Minnesota is bringing expert pain care to more kids thanks to expanded access within the Pediatric Pain, Palliative Care and Integrated Medicine (PPCIM) Program.

With recent operational changes, the PPCIM Program can now see more patients and treat a wider variety of conditions. From a patient perspective, kids can now get in for appointments faster and experience shorter, more efficient visits. The operational changes are part of Children’s Minnesota’s redesign initiative, which includes efforts to improve efficiency and patient experience.

The PPCIM Program is one the largest and most comprehensive programs of its kind in the country. It takes an interdisciplinary approach to prevent and treat pain in babies, children and teens, making sure kids can live as well as possible.

How we’re improving access

We’ve made several changes in the PPCIM outpatient clinic that have improved access and efficiency. The benefits of these changes include:

Increased virtual care options

Although virtual care (telehealth) was already available with the PPCIM Program, the COVID-19 pandemic increased the need for virtual care. For example, PPCIM saw six virtual care patients in January 2020, but that number jumped to 300 appointments in December 2020.

Having virtual care options means less travel time for patients and fewer disruptions to their daily schedule. PPCIM experts can also see long-distance patients who may not usually travel to Children’s Minnesota for treatment.

Increased capacity for new patients

The operational changes allow us to see up to six new patients a week in the PPCIM Program, doubling the number of new patients we can see in a month.

Expanded conditions and patient types

The program treats children with conditions that cause chronic, debilitating pain and functional impairment, such as postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome (POTS) and Ehlers Danlos syndromes. We are now accepting new types of patients, including children with undiagnosed conditions causing pain that affect their daily quality of life.

Our team will also see kids who may not know what’s causing their pain. If a patient hasn’t been able to get a diagnosis with their primary pediatrician or another specialist, the PPCIM Program may be able to help.

Shorter turnaround time for appointments

With the operational changes, new patients don’t have to wait as long to get an appointment with a PPCIM specialist. We can usually see patients within two weeks from the time of referral.

Patients and families can self-refer for appointments with the PPCIM Program or ask for a referral through their provider.

More efficient appointments

We’ve changed up our processes to allow for faster and more efficient appointments. As a result of these changes, the first intake appointment has been shortened to an hour. At the conclusion of this initial appointment, the patient will have an individualized tailor-made plan of care outlining the next steps in their pain rehabilitation.

Creating seamless care for patients

While efficient operations are important to expanding access to patients, the PPCIM Program also understands the need to create a positive and seamless care experience. We know that many of our patients require care from multiple providers, so we want to make sure the treatment process is as smooth as possible.

With that in mind, we’re taking steps to make sure we’re coordinating care with each patient’s primary care provider (as much as the patient prefers). Our team also will help manage any referrals the patient may need beyond the PPCIM Program.

Learn more about the PPCIM Program and its expertise in painpalliative care and integrative medicine.