December 19, 2018, 02:51 pm Chris Crawford – The State Targeted Response Technical Assistance (STR-TA) Consortium is now ready to assist family physicians with addressing chronic pain, opioid use disorders (OUDs) and delivery of medication-assisted treatment (MAT).
The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration awarded a two-year grant to the American Academy of Addiction Psychiatry (AAAP) to bring together a coalition of 22 health care organizations, including the AAFP, to collaborate with individuals (including family physicians), communities, states and territories to address the OUD crisis in the United States.
The coalition has fielded technical assistance teams composed of treatment, prevention and recovery consultants covering each state and territory. The Addiction Technology Transfer Center (ATTC), a core partner of the STR-TA Consortium, has identified a technology transfer specialist for each state and territory, as well. The ATTC is working closely with the single state agency/STR grantees and individuals to help identify and provide oversight for technical assistance requests and manage each state's or territory's team.
After the program officially launched on May 2, Kathryn Cates-Wessel, CEO of the AAAP, told AAFP News that this resource is not only for states with STR grants, "but also for individuals, clinical practices, community groups, and prevention and recovery programs looking for help in learning more about how to address the opioid crisis in their community with local resources and expertise."
Since its launch, the STR-TA program has had more than 400 requests, according to Jane Goodger, manager of outreach and communications for the AAAP.
"It's been pretty amazing, considering we haven't marketed the initiative that much so far," Goodger told AAFP News. "Every time I tell somebody about this initiative, they're amazed at the types of things that we've been doing."
Goodger said submitted requests have varied greatly and include many people wanting training and others who seek to start projects such as developing opioid prevention curriculum for middle and high schools.
Specific examples of submitted requests include one from a businessman and father of a woman in recovery in Kansas City, Mo., who sought input on creating a recovery-focused high school.
"We also had a grandmother who wanted to offer a support system for other grandparents who suddenly find themselves caring for children of parents affected by the opioid crisis," Goodger said.
"We have had an incredible variety of requests that cover treatment to recovery to prevention," she added.
As for feedback from requestors, Goodger said: "They have been thrilled with this program and it's almost too good to be true to them because a lot of these people are lost -- they don't know how to solve their problems. When they come to the STR-TA, they are always happy that somebody is listening and working to help them get to wherever they need to be."
Goodger said the STR-TA program can help address almost any opioid-related issue that a family physician needs to tackle, including dealing with Medicaid and second-party payers. The program also is flexible in that it can bring a consultant in from another state if they best fit the needs of a particular request.
"We can provide treatment models for their clinics or training for their staff," she said. "Almost anything they can dream up having to do with treating opioid use disorder, preventing it and recovery, we can gather the resources to help."
As a member of the STR-TA Consortium, the AAFP recruited family physicians to participate in the STR-TA program who had expertise and/or experience in OUDs and use of medications to treat them or who were interested in obtaining a waiver to prescribe medication-assisted treatment (MAT).
Darlene Petersen, M.D., of Roy, Utah, is one such family physician who was assigned to an STR-TA team that serves her home state.
Petersen has been board-certified in addiction medicine for five years and has been treating patients with OUDs using MAT in an outpatient setting for the past 11 years.
"I treat patients every day affected by opioid misuse who are in various stages of recovery," she said.
Petersen said she decided to join the STR-TA program to assist colleagues and others because Utah has consistently ranked in the top 10 states with the highest incidence of opioid misuse and she wanted to help combat the issue.
"We are here to provide assistance, from initiating treatment to (working with) special populations (i.e., pregnant women, teens, those with a dual diagnosis)," she said. "Depending on the request, the goal is to match you with a person who has the most expertise in the area that you have a question on."
Petersen said the STR-TA program is valuable to all family physicians, including solo clinicians such as herself, as a free resource that can be used as a "curbside consult" on specific patients or for training on providing MAT and the inevitable challenges and questions related to that, including about patient intakes, workflow, drug testing and instituting medication counts.
"As family physicians, we are in a unique position to identify patients with opioid dependence and provide treatment to them in a setting where they are already engaged in care," she said.
Family physicians interested in requesting assistance frrequest assistance onlineom the STR-TA program can visit the initiative's website and submit a request online.
"Within one business day, someone will schedule a call with the person to find out more about their request," Goodger said. "It's simple and easy to use, and importantly, it's free, no matter what the request. We might not be able to build a website for someone, but we can help find someone to help build a website for them.
"We've had plenty of requests, but we always have room for more."
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