Background: The continued escalation of opioid use disorder (OUD) calls for heightened vigilance to implement evidence-based care across the US. Rural care providers and patients have limited resources, and a number of barriers exist that can impede necessary OUD treatment services. This paper reports the design and protocol of an implementation study seeking to advance availability of medication assisted treatment (MAT) for OUD in rural Pennsylvania counties for patients insured by Medicaid in primary care settings.
Methods: This project was a hybrid implementation study. Within a chronic care model paradigm, we employed the Framework for Systems Transformation to implement the American Society for Addiction Medicine care model for the use of medications in the treatment of OUD. In partnership with state leadership, Medicaid managed care organizations, local care management professionals, the Universities of Pittsburgh and Utah, primary care providers (PCP), and patients; the project team worked within 23 rural Pennsylvania counties to engage, recruit, train, and collaborate to implement the OUD service model in PCP practices from 2016 to 2019. Formative measures included practice-level metrics to monitor project implementation, and outcome measures involved employing Medicaid claims and encounter data to assess changes in provider/patient-level OUD-related metrics, such as MAT provider supply, prevalence of OUD, and MAT utilization. Descriptive statistics and repeated measures regression analyses were used to assess changes across the study period.
Discussion: There is an urgent need in the US to expand access to high quality, evidence-based OUD treatment-particularly in rural areas where capacity is limited for service delivery in order to improve patient health and protect lives. Importantly, this project leverages multiple partners to implement a theory- and practice-driven model of care for OUD. Results of this study will provide needed evidence in the field for appropriate methods for implementing MAT among a large number of rural primary care providers.
Keywords: Implementation; Medication assisted treatment; Opioid use disorder; Rural.