After discovering that a significant portion of individuals who overdosed on opioids were already enrolled in at least one addiction treatment program, Mercy Health in Ohio realized they needed a new approach to address the opioid epidemic.
“[Patients] were already using available services, so it wasn’t an issue of care availability, it was more an issue of care coordination,” said Dr. Steve Feagins, vice president for medical affairs at Mercy Health-East Market and medical director for Hamilton County Public Health.
The number of people who were still in treatment 12 months after starting, instead of discontinuing treatment early, increased from 6% to 40% after Mercy Health created a collaborative with treatment providers in the area.
When a patient arrives in the ED because of an overdose, care coordinators help manage the patient’s transition from the hospital to treatment centers. Treatment centers can view the patient’s record in Epic to facilitate care coordination and communication. Mercy Health staff also use a third-party messaging tool to speak with treatment facilities in real time.
The need for a collaborative approach was clear to Mercy Health. “People were dying. We are starting to turn it around,” Dr. Feagins said.