A practical guide for establishing MAT programs in a primary care setting

Care management & redesign Behavioral health & addiction Quality improvement

Medications for opioid use disorder are evidence-based and, in combination with evidence-based behavioral health interventions, are best practice.

But successful medications for addiction treatment (MAT) programs need to do more than just prescribe and dispense medication — they must also be designed to address the complex health and social needs of the patients seeking care. We are excited to announce the publication of a new best practices toolkit for providers and administrators looking to start up or strengthen MAT programs in primary care settings using a complex care approach.

Not all people with complex health and social needs have substance use disorders and vice versa, but because addiction can take over so many areas of an individual’s life, many patients with substance use disorders benefit from a complex care approach. By creating an authentic connection, as well as using best practices to prescribe necessary medications, healthcare providers can make a tremendous impact. However, not all primary care clinics have the available resources, tools, or available staffing to create their own fully functioning MAT programs.

The MAT best practices toolkit addresses this problem by targeting program administrators and clinical care teams who want to establish effective opioid use disorder MAT programs in a primary care setting. The resources and data contained in the toolkit can be modified to the specific needs and dynamics of each individual clinic, and is designed to help clinicians understand the whole-person needs of their patients, challenge stigma within the walls of care, blend the best of dueling recovery ideologies, utilize evidence-based best practices, and incorporate program data for sustainability.

The toolkit, co-authored by Shelly Virva (Camden Coalition of Healthcare Providers) and Grace “Katie” Bell (Telewell Indian Health MAT Project), is the result of extensive interprofessional team-based direct care and collaboration experience in designing programs and learning from failures and successes alike. Our hope is that this toolkit can provide the practical program development and day-to-day operational information needed to develop sustainable MAT programs in primary care clinics across the country.