Integrating addiction treatment into primary care using mobile health technology: protocol for an implementation research study

Implement Sci. 2014 May 29;9:65. doi: 10.1186/1748-5908-9-65.


Background: Healthcare reform in the United States is encouraging Federally Qualified Health Centers and other primary-care practices to integrate treatment for addiction and other behavioral health conditions into their practices. The potential of mobile health technologies to manage addiction and comorbidities such as HIV in these settings is substantial but largely untested. This paper describes a protocol to evaluate the implementation of an E-Health integrated communication technology delivered via mobile phones, called Seva, into primary-care settings. Seva is an evidence-based system of addiction treatment and recovery support for patients and real-time caseload monitoring for clinicians.

Methods/design: Our implementation strategy uses three models of organizational change: the Program Planning Model to promote acceptance and sustainability, the NIATx quality improvement model to create a welcoming environment for change, and Rogers's diffusion of innovations research, which facilitates adaptations of innovations to maximize their adoption potential. We will implement Seva and conduct an intensive, mixed-methods assessment at three diverse Federally Qualified Healthcare Centers in the United States. Our non-concurrent multiple-baseline design includes three periods - pretest (ending in four months of implementation preparation), active Seva implementation, and maintenance - with implementation staggered at six-month intervals across sites. The first site will serve as a pilot clinic. We will track the timing of intervention elements and assess study outcomes within each dimension of the Reach, Effectiveness, Adoption, Implementation, and Maintenance framework, including effects on clinicians, patients, and practices. Our mixed-methods approach will include quantitative (e.g., interrupted time-series analysis of treatment attendance, with clinics as the unit of analysis) and qualitative (e.g., staff interviews regarding adaptations to implementation protocol) methods, and assessment of implementation costs.

Discussion: If implementation is successful, the field will have a proven technology that helps Federally Qualified Health Centers and affiliated organizations provide addiction treatment and recovery support, as well as a proven strategy for implementing the technology. Seva also has the potential to improve core elements of addiction treatment, such as referral and treatment processes. A mobile technology for addiction treatment and accompanying implementation model could provide a cost-effective means to improve the lives of patients with drug and alcohol problems.

Trial registration: (NCT01963234).

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Cell Phone*
  • Clinical Protocols
  • Evidence-Based Medicine
  • Humans
  • Primary Health Care / organization & administration*
  • Research Design
  • Safety-net Providers / organization & administration*
  • Substance-Related Disorders / rehabilitation*
  • Telemedicine / organization & administration*

Associated data