With opioid abuse at epidemic proportions, it’s time to increase access to medication assisted treatment (MAT) and train more doctors to provide it.
Thankfully, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) has launched a new measure to do so: a smartphone app that provides essential resources and information to doctors treating patients with opioid addiction. The app was developed as part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Opioid Initiative (launched in March 2015) and is focused on improving opioid prescribing practices, as well as increasing the use of naloxone to reverse overdoses.
How Does the App Help?
Among the many benefits the app provides is the instant access to SAMHSA’s locater tool, which helps doctors and patients find the nearest qualified opioid addiction treatment center. Access to qualified treatment is difficult, so having this tool is quite helpful, especially since it tells you where and what resources are available in particular communities.
In addition, the app also supplies the user with practical information on the medications and treatment approaches intended for combatting the deadly consequences of opioid addiction. A great example is the information that pops up for the drug naloxone, a medication that reverses the effects of an opiate overdose.
There’s also a buprenorphine (Suboxone) prescribing guide for practitioners, along with other helpful clinical support tools, such as ICD-10 coding and recommendations for doctors working with special patient populations.
Hurdles to Consider
Despite the perks of this app, users are also met with several challenges. The first is getting patients and doctors educated about the benefits of MAT and the medications utilized with the treatment process. To do so, users can find a wide variety of essential resources online at SAMHSA’s official website, most of which are available completely free of charge.
Another challenge is getting practitioners trained and certified to prescribe buprenorphine. Anyone with a valid DEA license has the capability to prescribe buprenorphine for pain; all it requires is an extra waiver. However, MAT therapies are shrouded with stigma, leaving many doctors wary of taking on the new accreditation process to prescribe it with naloxone.
Open to Change?
Despite the concerns, SAMHSA encourages all healthcare providers to give their app a whirl and provide them with any feedback about the usefulness of its resources. The MAT mobile app is both Apple and Android compatible, it can be downloaded for free or accessed through respective app stores.
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