Program helps primary care practices expand access to treatment for opioid use disorder

February 17, 2022

2 minute read


Source/Disclosures


Disclosures: Zittleman does not report any relevant financial information. Please see the study for relevant financial information from all other authors.


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A tiered program that provided support and resources to rural primary care practices was associated with an increase in buprenorphine prescriptions, the data shows.

Prior to the study, very few healthcare providers in rural Colorado, where the study was conducted, had obtained a Drug Enforcement Administration waiver to prescribe buprenorphine for drug use disorders. of opioids, co-author of the study Linda Zittleman, MSPHsenior instructor in the Department of Family Medicine at the University of Colorado School of Medicine, Healio told Healio.





“Clinicians and staff repeatedly described the clinical and emotional pressure due to their concern about patients’ use of opioids – and the lack of resources to address it,” she said.

Zittleman and his colleagues engaged 42 primary care practices in the Technology and Medication Assisted Treatment Team Training (IT MATTTRS) program. This initiative uses a team approach to increase knowledge about opioid use disorder, buprenorphine, and treatment-seeking behaviors, provides free AED exemption training, and provides other support for implementation of treatment for opioid use disorder in practice.

“On-site team training is really about giving practices a resource that uses the whole team,” Zittleman said. “Everyone – front desk staff, physician assistants, nurses, billing – can play a part, reduce the stigma around opioid use disorder and drug treatment, and help clinicians provide this treatment.

The IT MATTTRs program also works with community members to develop locally relevant messages and materials regarding opioid use disorders and drug treatment, Zittleman said.

Initially, the primary care practices that participated in the study offered an average of 4.7 components needed to provide medication treatment, such as a medication treatment team, an on-staff behavioral health expert, or a professional agreement with a, and a screening process for opioid use disorder. Very few practices employed a prescriber with derogation.

The researchers reported in Annals of Family Medicine that 1 year after implementing IT MATTTRS, participating primary care practices had 13 treatment components in place (P P

Zittleman said IT MATTTRS helps break down the stigma that some medical professionals have about opioid use disorders.

“We’ve heard time and time again from community members and practice staff that understanding the addiction cycle is a game-changer,” she said. “When they learned that people with opioid use disorder got to the point where they no longer took their opioids to feel but to feel normal, their view of opioid use disorder of opioids has changed.”

According to the researchers, the limitations of the study include not having all of the requested data for each of the participating practices and not evaluating the quality of care patients at these practices received.

Even so, the results demonstrate that “IT MATTTRs is a resource for enabling the implementation of buprenorphine treatment for opioid use disorder in primary care, helping communities increase access to local ambulatory care and save lives,” Zittleman said.

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