There is no silver bullet to solve the addiction crisis in America. But there are ways we can transform our current health care system to better serve the needs of those struggling with substance use and abuse issues.
Based on recommendations by the Institute for Healthcare Improvement, Changes to Improve Chronic Care, six essential ingredients for this transformation are:
- Self-Management Support
Patients with chronic conditions need support, as well as information, to become effective managers of their own health. To meet these needs, it is essential for them to have:
- Basic information about their condition
- Understanding and assistance with self-management skill building
- Ongoing support from members of the practice team, family, friends and community
- Delivery System Design
The delivery of care to people with chronic conditions requires not only determining what care is needed, but clarifying roles and tasks to ensure the patient gets the care; making sure all clinicians who take care of a patient have centralized, up-to-date information about the patient’s status; and making follow-up part of standard procedure.
In a well-designed delivery system, clinicians plan visits well in advance, based on the patient’s needs and self-management goals. During “group visits,” patients see their clinician and meet with other patients with similar health problems. Nonphysician staff are cross-trained to provide care through standing orders.
- Use planned interactions to support evidence-based care
- Ensure regular follow-up by the care team
- Define roles and distribute tasks among team members
- Decision Support
Treatment decisions need to be based on explicit, proven guidelines supported by at least one defining study. Health care organizations creatively integrate explicit, proven guidelines into the day-to-day practice of the primary care providers in an accessible and easy-to-use manner. Providers receive ongoing education, and primary care clinicians stay in the loop when a patient is referred to a specialist.
- Clinical Information Systems
A registry—an information system that can track individual patients as well as populations of patients—is a necessity when managing chronic illness or preventive care. The registry is the foundation for successful integration of all the elements of the chronic care model. The entire care team uses the registry to guide the course of treatment, anticipate problems and track progress.
- Organization of Health Care
The effort to improve care should be woven into the fabric of the organization and aligned with a quality improvement system. Senior leadership must identify the effort to improve chronic and preventive care as important work, and translate that into clear goals reflected in the health center’s policies, procedures, business plan and financial planning. The entire organization must be engaged in the improvement effort. Senior leaders and clinical champions are visible and committed members of the team, and they give personnel the resources and support they need to pursue it.
- Community Support
Community programs and organizations that can support or expand a health system’s care for patients with chronic conditions and prevention strategies are often overlooked. To improve the health of the population, health care organizations reach out to form powerful alliances and partnerships with state programs, local agencies, schools, faith organizations, businesses and clubs.
Our goal at Navigate Recovery Gwinnett is to offer a solutions-based approach to addiction care that enhances and supports the chronic care model outlined above. We work to utilize existing community programs and organizations where applicable and to enhance current systems or create new ones where needed. By building addiction awareness in the community, we advocate for improved access to services that positively impact addiction outcomes.
This approach is self-funding and doesn’t depend on any one sector of the population to support it. It involves working with community partners to develop a Recovery Resource Center offering free recovery support to those suffering from addiction and their families. These initiatives will raise the quality of life in our community, benefiting everyone in measurable ways.
In contrast to this holistic model of care, silver bullet solutions to addiction fall far short of the opportunity to provide truly lasting recovery for the whole person, mind, body and spirit. When we focus on only a single aspect, we risk setting up many of the struggling for repetitive relapses, to transfer addiction to other substances, and to lose the chance of living recovered lives, including the very real possibility of death.
By shifting our focus to providing a continuum of care for addiction, we offer multifaceted solutions that equip the patient and families to experience long-term remission from addiction’s deadly grip.
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Navigate Recovery Gwinnett’s blog provides general information, personal reflections and discussion about addiction, health care and related subjects. The contents of this blog, and in any linked materials, are for informational purposes only and do not constitute medical advice. The blog’s content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of a physician or qualified health provider with any questions you have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking it because of something you have read on this website.