Battle to Help Control Addiction

Pennsylvania’s Governor’s Office recently awarded $1 million in grants for Medication-Assisted Addiction Treatment to help four healthcare organizations develop programs for state residents suffering from addiction.

The grants were funded through the “21st Century Cures” federal grant program to help states combat the heroin and opioid epidemic. This is to be achieved by increasing access to treatment, reducing unmet treatment needs, and thereby reducing opioid overdose-related deaths.

The Allegheny Health Network the first healthcare provider in Pennsylvania to receive funds, is going to equip clinicians with new software to seamlessly check a patient’s history of prescribed controlled substance without navigating away from the patient’s electronic health chart in Epic.

Geisinger Clinic, UPMC PinnacleHealth, and Wellspan Health were also grant recipients.

In general, the grants will expand access to treatment for all Pennsylvania residents in their own communities through a hub-and-spoke network of healthcare providers.

The state’s hub-and-spoke model includes an addiction specialist physician at the center of the hub able to provide expert guidance and support to primary care physicians in rural and underserved areas of the state. Using the hub-and-spoke model, primary care physicians can provide direct patient care which includes providing medication-assisted treatment prescriptions.

Pennsylvania is also using another initiative to fight the opioid epidemic. This initiative enables registered users of the Pennsylvania Prescription Drug Monitoring Program (PA PDMP) to search for information regarding opioid prescriptions filled by their patients in neighboring states.

The Hospital Association of Pennsylvania’s (HAP) goal is to strengthen the PA PDMP so that doctors are required to check the system each time they prescribe opioids and benzodiazepines.

The state is also seeking to establish a new level for the use of interstate data exchange which is being called the “PMP Interconnect Search” .The PMP Interconnect Search will be able to identify patients who may be crossing state lines to get opioid medications without their doctors’ knowledge. This new interoperability function is currently only available for neighboring states but there are plans to connect with more states including Pennsylvania in the future.

The state is using other initiatives to fight the opioid epidemic:

  • Limit the number of opioids that can be prescribed to a minor and/or individuals discharged from EDs for just seven days
  • Increase the number by 25 of rural Medicaid providers who are able to prescribe MAT through funding from a federal grant
  • Form new prescribing guidelines to help doctors who provide opioid prescriptions to their patients including guidelines specific to orthopedics and sports medicine
  • Create the warm handoff guideline to enable overdose survivors to connect to others for addiction treatment
  • Establish education curriculum to teach safe prescribing in medical schools
  • Educate patients to properly use, store, and dispose of unused prescription medications through drug take-back initiatives
  • Increase the availability of naloxone to first responders and to law enforcement 


Email Michael J. Consuelos Senior VP for HAP at for more information.

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