Accountable interventional pain management: a collaboration among practitioners, patients, payers, and government

Pain Physician. 2013 Nov-Dec;16(6):E635-70.


The prevalence, costs, and disability associated with chronic pain continue to escalate. So too, the numerous modalities of treatments applied in managing these patients continue to increase as well. In the period from 2000 to 2011 interventional techniques increased 228%. In addition, analysis of utilization trends and expenditures for spinal interventional techniques alone from 2000 to 2008 illustrated an increase in Medicare fee-for-service expenditures of 240% in terms of dollars spent in the United States. The Office of Inspector General (OIG) of the Department of Health and Human Services showed an increase in facet joint and transforaminal epidural injections, with a significant proportion of these services did not meet the medical necessity criteria.The increasing utilization of interventional techniques is also associated with significant variations among specialty groups and regional variations among states. Overall procedures have increased by 173%, with rate of 130% per 100,000 Medicare beneficiaries for epidural injections; 383%, with a rate of 308% for facet joint interventions; and overall 410%, or a rate of 331% for sacroiliac joint interventions. Certain high volume interventions such as lumbar transforaminal epidural injections and lumbar facet joint neurolysis have actually increased a staggering 806% and 662%.Coverage policies across ambulatory settings and by multiple payers are highly variable. Apart from variability in the development of coverage policies, payments also substantially vary by site of service. In general, amongst the various ambulatory settings the highest payments are made to hospital outpatient departments (HOPDs) the lowest to in-office procedures, and payment to ambulatory surgery centers (ASCs) falling somewhere in the middle.This manuscript describes the many differences that exist between the various settings, and includes suggestions for accountable interventional pain management with coverage for techniques with evidence, addressing excessive use of specific techniques, and equalizing payments across multiple ambulatory settings.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Health Care Costs / trends
  • Humans
  • Insurance, Health / economics*
  • Insurance, Health / trends*
  • Pain Management / economics*
  • Pain Management / methods*
  • Pain Management / statistics & numerical data*
  • United States