Doctors Dealing with Opioid Use

The Lehigh Valley Health Network (LVHN) has been using AHRQ’s initiative Rural Access to Medication Assisted Treatment in Pennsylvania referred to as (ProjectRAMP). 

ProjectRAMP incorporates screening for SUDs in outpatient clinics and provides medications for opioid use disorders in primary care practices.

Gillian A. Beauchamp, MD., LVHN Emergency Physician, came to LVHN in 2016 to implement a program to help people struggling with opioids get treatment with medications.

Beginning in 2018, Dr. Beauchamp and the team set up emergency departments and inpatient, and primary care-based resources to support patients with opioid use disorders and provide medication treatment.

After implementing initial acute care treatment which includes withdrawal management, initiation of medication, the team now provides referrals for ongoing care and trains primary care physicians to continue this care in the outpatient setting.

The program started with just four primary care physicians and then expanded to 10. As of Spring 2021, there are 25 participating primary care providers in urban, suburban, and rural Pennsylvania.

As Dr. Beauchamp explained, “At the beginning, since the primary care doctors were unfamiliar with addiction treatment, the primary care doctors were uneasy taking on this care. Now that they have become more experienced, they’re quite comfortable providing the care,”

About 100 patients a month are transferred from emergency departments and inpatient hospital units to maintenance care. Many of these patients now engage with primary care providers who are able to integrate medication for addiction treatment into their overall primary care. In April 2021, 80 patients in 12 sites were receiving treatment from more than 20 providers.

“While opioid overdose rates have grown due to COVID, we are getting more people into treatment,”. Dr Beauchamp said. “We’re seeing three to eight more patients each month over previous months.”

She reports, “With such a high risk population, our 40 percent rate of patients returning month after month for treatment is a very good return rate. About 72 percent of LVHN’s patients in the program have remained in treatment after 120 days with 65 percent remaining after 180 days.”

 

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