Monday, September 18 | Thought Leadership, Human Services, Care Coordination, Cause Connected, Legislative/Policy, Value-based Care

Fighting Opioid Addiction—One Life at a Time

By Neal Tilghman, Senior Director and GM Addictions and Mental Health

The opioid crisis is one of our nation’s most serious issues. Drug overdose deaths rose 55% from 2019 to 2022 in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. And of those fatalities, 75% were the result of opioid use. 

 

Overdose is now the leading cause of injury-related death in the United States, says the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, but according to their 2021 data, 66.8% of fatal overdoses had at least one potential opportunity for intervention. While this statistic may sound grim, it actually offers hope for those of us in addiction treatment. One single intervention can save a life. 

 

So how can provider organizations coordinate effective interventions? We believe there are three strategies that have proven effective in combatting the opioid crisis thus far: 

  • Integrated Care
  • Policy
  • Technology

Read on to find out the importance behind these three strategies and how you can empower your organization in each of these areas.

 

 

Integrated care

Integrated care is a model that has become the gold standard in behavioral health. Each year, more clinics receive grants to become Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinics (CCBHCs) to expand coordination of mental health with addiction treatment and primary care. The idea behind this philosophy is that treating a condition (such as opioid use) works best when you know the patient’s full history. An individual with an Opioid Use Disorder (OUD) has the same physical health conditions as the general population, but these physical conditions are often more elevated due to numerous factors as delayed healthcare and other Social Determinants of Health (SDoH). According to a McKinsey report, an integrated care approach could reduce the total healthcare spend in the U.S. by $185 billion. 

 

Integrated care is not a new concept, but we are now beginning to see alignment of funding mechanisms, regulatory enhancements, and the technology to fully support treating the whole person. The current environment is delivering the tools needed to combat the opioid crisis not just by coordinating co-morbidities but also by addressing the social, environment and digital well-being of the individual with an OUD.  

 

 

Policy
Since 2016, the federal government has actively been enhancing policy and funding with the intent to fight the opioid crisis. According to the Congressional Budget Office, the strategy is three-fold:

  • Reduce the demand for opioids by preventing and treating OUD
  • Reduce the supply of opioids by limiting the inappropriate and nonmedical use of prescription opioids and the supply of illegally produced opioids
  • Reduce the harm from OUD by supporting the health of people with OUD until they are ready to seek treatment.

The continued expansion of CCBHC and the vast array of opioid legislation is allowing for increased access and use of treatment for individuals with OUD.  Both of these give local communities the opportunity to make a difference.  As funding continues, CCBHC becomes the gold standard, and regulations are enhanced, now is the time to invest in technology to address integrated care for sustained recovery. These are also tools to make your workforce more efficient and meet the growing service demand.  

 

 

Technology

“Where do I invest – and how?” As a treatment community we have a unique opportunity to rapidly expand whole-person care. Investing in tools that complement your electronic health record (EHR) are essential. Evaluate expansion of interoperability tools that are more than just sharing data via a Continuity of Care Document (CCD), such as: 

  • Care management solutions for risk stratification at the population and individual levels
  • Predictive analytics to move beyond standard KPIs
  • Broadening the definition of patient engagement to include digital therapeutics
  • Workflows and apps for remote support

“What will be the impact?” Delivering the right intervention at the right time saves lives, and predictive care sustains recovery. 

 

To learn more about how to leverage technology, check out these resources:

Using the strategies and resources outlined in this blog, your organization can harness the power of technology to take on the opioid crisis, one life at a time. 

Meet the Author

Neal Tilghman Blog Photo
Neal Tilghman · Senior Director and GM Addictions and Mental Health

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