As part of its work to address the opioid epidemic, the California Health Care Foundation (CHCF) is supporting Groups (joingroups.com), a mission-driven medical practice that offers affordable treatment for opioid use disorder in rural communities. CHCF is providing a loan through its Health Innovation Fund, which supports health care technology and service companies working to improve care for underserved communities.
Groups solves a common problem in California: Very few physicians in rural areas prescribe medication treatment for opiate addiction, even though these areas are hit hardest by the opioid epidemic. Groups provides buprenorphine — an effective medication for opioid use disorder that can be prescribed by primary care clinicians — along with group therapy and other support services to facilitate recovery from addiction. Groups is a low-cost option, and should soon be available to people insured through Medi-Cal.
"Buprenorphine treatment yields a 50%-60% recovery rate at one year compared to less than 10% for drug-free treatment, but it is still too hard to find for most Californians," said Kelly Pfeifer, MD, director of High-Value Care at CHCF and the leader of the foundation's opioid initiative. "Groups' model is both cost-effective and scalable, and it is an important piece of the solution for rural communities."
In Groups' team-based model, patients participate in weekly group therapy led by addiction counselors and receive medication management from local physicians, while administrators coordinate patient care and manage regulatory requirements. Groups has been successful in recruiting physicians in rural areas to provide opiate addiction treatment where it would otherwise be unavailable. Groups' model works as well as the industry average at a much lower cost, and has proven to be highly scalable. Groups is already active in Indiana, Maine, New Hampshire, and Ohio.
"Groups is excited to collaborate with CHCF and increase access to treatment for opiate addiction, especially for underserved Californians," said Jeff DeFlavio, MD, founder and CEO of Groups. "Groups' model works well for rural communities that have been hardest hit by this epidemic, and is designed to help patients get their lives back."
Groups has just launched in Placer and Butte Counties and is working to expand into other counties. "Our aim is to support Groups as it enters California," said CHCF's Innovation Fund director, Melissa Buckley, "and connect them to our network of providers and plans, and patients, to catalyze impact in communities that need it most."
Groups is a mission-driven medical practice that aims to bring affordable, evidence-based treatment for opiate addiction to rural communities most in need. Groups currently operates more than 30 facilities in five states: California, Indiana, Maine, New Hampshire, and Ohio. Learn more at http://joingroups.com.
About the California Health Care Foundation
The California Health Care Foundation is dedicated to advancing meaningful, measurable improvements in the way the health care delivery system provides care to the people of California, particularly those with low incomes and those whose needs are not well served by the status quo. We work to ensure that people have access to the care they need, when they need it, at a price they can afford.
The CHCF Health Innovation Fund brings entrepreneurial innovation to support the CHCF mission by investing in new and emerging technologies in the safety net. Find out more at www.chcf.org/innovation-fund.