Training Primary Care Providers to Treat Addiction

Building addiction treatment into a busy primary care practice is complex, technical, and sensitive work. Leaders must ensure patient safety, compliance with strict regulatory requirements, and workplace culture management to support compassionate care — especially for patients whose uncontrolled addiction may lead to challenging, drug-seeking behavior.

New care models that include medication-assisted treatment (MAT) require primary care practices to make many changes ranging from education of providers and staff to practical details of office workflow.

In 2016 the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) granted Substance Abuse Service Expansion Awards (SASE) to 36 California health centers to take on these changes. Because most grantees said they had limited or no experience providing addiction treatment, they welcomed customized technical assistance. In response to this request, the Center for Care Innovations, in partnership with the California Health Care Foundation, launched the Treating Addiction in the Primary Care Safety Net (TAPC) program, providing tailored technical assistance on addiction treatment and change management topics to 25 of the 36 SASE grantees.

Technical assistance opportunities include:

  • Project ECHO for buprenorphine: The Weitzman Institute provides monthly live video consultation to review difficult cases regarding buprenorphine administration.
  • Coaching: Tailored coaching support to help teams integrate substance use treatment and MAT into primary care.
  • Monthly webinars: Publicly available webinars led by the California Society of Addiction Medicine.
  • In-person learning sessions: Opportunities to share best practices and challenges with peers.
  • Site visits: Daylong site visits to California health centers with exemplary MAT programs.