• Opioids;
  • Chronic Pain;
  • Outcome Assessment


Objective.  We herein provide a description of a health information technology tool using computer-assisted survey instruments as a methodology for documentation during long-term opioid therapy.

Design.  We report our experience using the Prescription Opioid Documentation and Surveillance (PODS) System, a medical informatics tool that utilizes validated questionnaires to automate the assessment of opioid prescribing for chronic nonmalignant pain.

Setting and Patients.  Chronic pain patients answered questions that were presented on a computer terminal prior to each appointment in a Department of Veterans Affairs Pain Clinic.

Measures.  Pain levels, activities of daily living, and screening for common psychological disorders were sought at each visit. Results were tabulated with some information gathered sequentially permitting evaluation of progress. Following a face-to-face interview, the clinician added additional comments to the medical record.

Results.  By deploying a systematic series of questions that are recalled by the computer, PODS assures a comprehensive assessment.

Conclusions.  The PODS fulfills medicolegal requirements for documentation and provides a systematic means of determining outcomes. This process facilitates the determination of the appropriate intervals between clinic visits by stratifying patients into high, moderate, and low risk.