Addiction Treatment Demystified: Proven, Practical Steps for Complex Care

June 2018

On June 21, 2018, an episode of WIHI featured a discussion on integrating addiction treatment into health care. Madge Kaplan, Director of Communication at IHI and WIHI’s host, moderated the discussion. The guests were Catherine Mather, MA, Director at IHI; and R. Corey Waller, MD, MS, FACEP, DFASAM, Addiction, Pain, Emergency Medicine Specialist; Managing Partner, Complex Care Consulting, LLC; Chair, Legislative Advocacy Committee for the American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM).

They addressed the following questions:

  • What are the barriers to effective addiction treatment in our current system?
  • How can health care systems integrate addiction treatment into care?

Here were a few of the key takeaways:

  • It’s time to stop talking about addiction as an outlier in health care. It’s a primary chronic neurological disorder that we can predict and manage. 
  • There is substantial evidence of what works, but it’s not standardized across acute or ambulatory settings. 
  • Improving care for people with addiction has the potential to improve outcomes for complex patients in other areas as well. Treating addiction can stabilize patients with diabetes, hypertension, and other issues. 
  • We have to build an entire ecosystem to treat addiction, implementing evidence-based strategies, connecting treatment with care coordination programs, community health worker programs, and so on. 
  • Telemedicine has an important role to play, especially in rural areas with few if any treatment options. 
  • Attendees can also access WIHI session resources.

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