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About this IHI Virtual Expedition

In 2015, 33,091 deaths in the US involved opioids, a number that has continued to increase year-on-year. Even with significant attention and resources devoted to curbing the crisis, opioid misuse and abuse has only led to more deaths across the country.

This Institute for Healthcare Improvement (IHI) Virtual Expedition aims to give health care leaders and providers the information and skills they need to impact multiple drivers of the opioid crisis in their own communities. Including:

  • Limiting the supply of excess prescription opioids for acute and chronic pain
  • Decreasing the demand for prescription opioids through promotion of nonpharmacologic pain management strategies
  • Raising patient awareness of the risks of opioid misuse, addiction, and overdose
  • Identifying, assessing and managing patients at risk for harmful opioid use
  • Caring for patients with opioid use disorders in office-based settings
  • Implementing opioid overdose prevention through system- and community-based overdose education and naloxone distribution

Given the complexity and severity of the crisis, work on each of these drivers needs to be implemented in a coordinated, collaborative approach. Health systems, primary care teams, and providers in particular will play a critical role in impacting each of these drivers.

What You'll Learn

By the end of this Virtual Expedition, each participant will:

  • Understand the multiple roles health care organizations and providers can play in addressing the opioid crisis
  • Describe strategies to impact multiple drivers of the opioid crisis in their patients, health care systems, and communities, including:
    • Improving opioid prescribing practices
    • Educating prescribers and care team members about the risks of opioids and guideline-based risk mitigation strategies
    • Educating the multi-disciplinary care team and patients about chronic pain, opioids, and alternative pain management strategies
    • Identifying and managing patients with chronic pain on chronic opioids therapy who are not benefiting and/or suffering harm
    • Identifying and managing patients with opioid use disorders in office-based settings
    • Making connections across the care teams and ongoing community prevention efforts, including co-prescribing naloxone
  • Identify specific change ideas to test at their organization

This IHI Virtual Expedition is approved for a total of 5 continuing education credits for physicians, nurses and pharmacists.


Session 1: Safe and Competent Opioid Prescribing and the Model for Improvement
Date: Wednesday, February 28, 2018, 1:00 PM–2:30 PM ET
Session 2: Opioid Overdose Harm Reduction and Linkage with Community-Based Efforts
Date: Wednesday, March 14, 2018 1:00 PM–2:00 PM ET
Session 3: Limiting Opioid Demand Through Use of Nonpharmacologic Pain Management Strategies
Date: Wednesday, March 28, 2018, 1:00 PM–2:00 PM ET
Session 4: Developing a Systematic Organizational Approach for Safe Opioid Prescribing
Date: Wednesday, April 11, 2018 1:00 PM–2:00 PM ET
Session 5: Identification and Management of Patients with Opioid use Disorders
Date: Wednesday, April 18, 2018 1:00 PM–2:00 PM ET
Learn more about course Materials and Technology.​​


Daniel_Alford.jpg Daniel P. Alford, MD, MPH is Professor of Medicine, Assistant Dean of Continuing Medical Education and Director of the Safe and Competent Opioid Prescribing Education (SCOPE of Pain) program at Boston University School of Medicine (BUSM). He is on staff in the Section of General Internal Medicine and director of the Clinical Addiction Research and Education (CARE) Unit at Boston Medical Center. Dr. Alford is past-president of the Association for Medical Education and Research in Substance Abuse (AMERSA), and is course director of the BUSM Immersion Training Programs in Addiction Medicine funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA). In 2011 he was recognized as a Champion of Change by the White House. In 2014 he received the American Medical Association “Award for Health Education” and in 2016 was awarded the Educator of the Year Award by the American Society of Addiction Medicine and the Award for Distinguished Contributions to Behavioral Medicine by the American College of Physicians. His clinical, educational and research interests focus on opioid use disorders and safe and competent opioid prescribing for chronic pain.


Colleen LaBelle, BSN, RN-BC, CARN, board certification in addiction nursing and pain management with over 30 years of clinical experience. Ms. LaBelle was instrumental in the start-up of the State Technical Assistance Treatment Expansion of Buprenorphine (OBOT) program in the Boston Medical Care Primary Care Clinic, which manages more than 600 active patients with substance use disorder. She is the program director of the State Technical Assistance, Treatment Expansion where she works with 42 community health centers in Massachusetts, implementing a nurse care manager model for the expansion of medical treatment for SUD. This model has been dubbed the MA model by SAMHSA and has been disseminated into other states and health systems. It was published in 2016 and listed as best practice in an AHRQ guideline. Since 2003, Ms. LaBelle has served as faculty for the buprenorphine certification course, serves as the clinical expert for AMERSA and the Provider Clinical Support Services PCSS funded by SAMHSA. A recipient of numerous awards throughout her career, most recently the Lillian Carter award from Modern Health Care and Betty Ford Award from AMERSA.


Mara Laderman, MSPH, is a Director at the IHI. She is the content lead for IHI’s work in behavioral health, directing research initiatives and developing programming focused on better meeting individuals’ behavioral health needs across the health care system. Ms. Laderman also leads innovation projects on population health improvement, including recent work on the opioid crisis, health equity, and clinical-community linkages. Prior to IHI, she served as an external program evaluator for the Massachusetts Department of Public Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and managed a large psychiatric epidemiology study at the Center for Multicultural Mental Health Research. Ms. Laderman received a Master of Public Health from the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from Smith College.


Christopher Shanahan, MD, MPH, is board certified in both internal and addiction medicine. He is a practicing primary care general internist and expert in underserved populations with substance use disorders. Beside his primary care practice, Dr. Shanahan leads a multi-disciplinary community health center-based chronic pain and substance use disorder treatment clinic. Dr. Shanahan is a clinical addiction researcher and has developed and directed several clinical and computer-based systems targeting the improvement of care of individuals with a range of issues. These have included: a secure web-based screening system for substance use disorders (SUD) in both inpatient and outpatient settings, a web-based registry to support nurse care management for patients being treated with long-term opioids for chronic pain, and identifying inpatients with SUD and linking them to outpatient transitional methadone. He is an Assistant Professor of Medicine at Boston University School of Medicine. Dr. Shanahan received his MD from the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey and his MPH, at the Harvard School of Public Health.


Robert Saper, MD, MPH, is an Associate Professor of Family Medicine at Boston University and the current chair of the Academic Consortium for Integrative Medicine & Health. He graduated from Harvard Medical School in 1988 and the UCSF Family Medicine Residency in 1992. After being in private practice for eight years in the San Francisco Bay Area, he completed the Harvard NCCIH T32-funded Integrative Medicine Research Fellowship from 2001-2004. In 2004 he founded the Program for Integrative Medicine and Health Disparities at Boston Medical Center and Boston University School of Medicine. His research focus is the implementation of evidence-based integrative medicine approaches for underserved populations. He has received federal funding from the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health to study yoga for chronic back pain and a PCORI contract for a national pragmatic trial of physical therapy for the prevention of chronic back pain. He has published over 45 peer-reviewed papers and has lectured nationally and internationally. Dr. Saper continues to see patients for primary care and integrative medicine. He mentors medical students, residents, fellows, and junior faculty.

Alexander_Walley.jpg Alexander Y. Walley, MD, MSc, is an Associate Professor of Medicine at Boston University School of Medicine and a general internist and addiction medicine specialist at Boston Medical Center. He is the director of the Boston Medical Center Addiction Medicine Fellowship program. His research focus is on the medical complications of substance use, specifically HIV and overdose, and is an active investigator on clinical trials and cohort studies. He provides primary care and office-based addiction treatment for patients with HIV at Boston Medical Center and methadone maintenance treatment at Health Care Resource Centers. He is the medical director for the Massachusetts Department of Public Health’s Opioid Overdose Prevention Pilot Program. Since 2007, the MDPH program has trained over 60,000 people in Massachusetts’s communities, including people who use opioids, people in recovery, and their social networks.