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Abt Evaluating Six Building Blocks to Improve Opioid Management In Primary Care

Rockville, Md. – There is a growing need for primary care providers to balance preventing opioid misuse and potential risks while addressing the needs of patients with chronic pain. As a result, primary care practices need to redesign workflows and how they provide care. To help achieve that goal, the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) has awarded Abt Global a contract to implement and evaluate the Six Building Blocks (6BBs) team approach to improve opioid management in primary care.

The 6BBs provide a structured, systems-based approach for managing patients on long-term opioid therapy. Abt partners Michael Parchman of the MacColl Center at Kaiser Permanente Washington Health Research Institute and Laura-Mae Baldwin and Brooke Ike of the University of Washington developed the 6BBs, which include:

  • Leadership and consensus.
  • Policies, patient agreements and workflows.
  • Tracking and monitoring patient care.
  • Planned, patient-centered visits.
  • Caring for complex patients.
  • Measuring success (see:

Forty-two clinics from 13 health care organizations have agreed to implement the 6BBs using the Clinic Implementation Guide developed by Abt’s partners for this project. It is a step-by-step handbook clinics can use to adopt the 6BBs. Participating clinics span 10 states and include academic-, hospital-, and health-system affiliates, federally qualified health centers, patient-centered medical homes, and private practices.

“Caring for patients on long-term opioid therapy to treat chronic pain requires a team-based approach to improve the quality of care,” says Sarah J. Shoemaker-Hunt, PhD, PharmD, project director. “The Six Building Blocks Implementation Guide provides detailed direction for achieving that improvement.”


About Abt Global
Abt Global is an engine for social impact, dedicated to moving people from vulnerability to security.  Harnessing the power of data and our experts’ insights, we provide research, consulting and technical services globally in the areas of health, environmental and social policy, technology and international development.
Contact: Stan Crock
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