The Experience of Implementing a Low-Threshold Buprenorphine Treatment Program in a Non-Urban Medical PracticeRefereed Journal
Background To respond to the U.S. opioid crisis, new models of healthcare delivery for opioid use disorder treatment are essential. We used a qualitative approach to describe the implementation of a low-threshold buprenorphine treatment program in an independent, community-based medical practice in Ithaca, NY. Methods We conducted 17 semi-structured interviews with program staff, leadership, and external stakeholders. Then we analyzed these data using content analysis. We used purposeful sampling aiming for variation in job title for program staff, and in organizational affiliation for external stakeholders. Results We found that opening an independent medical practice allowed for low-threshold buprenorphine treatment with less regulatory oversight, but state-certification was ultimately required to ensure financial sustainability. Relying on health insurance reimbursement alone led to funding shortfalls and additional funding sources were also required. The practice’s ability to build relationships with licensed substance use treatment programs, community organizations, the legal system, and government agencies in the region differed depending on how much these entities supported a harm reduction philosophy compared to abstinence-based treatment. Finally, expanding the practice to a second location in a different region, co-located with a syringe service program, required adapting to a new cultural and political environment. Conclusion The results from this study provide insight about the challenges that independent medical practices might face in delivering low-threshold buprenorphine treatment. They support policy efforts to address the financial burdens associated with providing low-threshold buprenorphine therapy and inform the external relationships that other providers would need to consider when delivering novel treatment models.
Kapadia, Shashi, Judith Griffin, Justine Waldman, Nicolas R. Ziebarth, Bruce Schackman and Czarina Behrends (2022), The Experience of Implementing a Low-Threshold Buprenorphine Treatment Program in a Non-Urban Medical Practice, Substance Use & Misuse 57(2) , 308-315