In August the Board of Directors (BOD) met to set the strategic priorities for ASAM for the next three years, 2015-2018. These priorities do not replace the work ASAM is already doing in the areas of membership, education and advocacy. Instead, these selected priorities will help focus the organization’s work and assure that we make progress in these important strategic areas.
We are proud of the many members and other stakeholders who provided input to help with the Board’s decision making. We received member feedback at last year’s business meeting, chapter leadership input and conducted interviews with more than 20 external organizations to identify many needs in the addiction field.
After significant deliberation, the BOD by consensus selected three strategic priorities which reflect member needs, that respond to our external environment and which will strengthen ASAM’s mission. A strong theme across all of these priorities is how they will support patient access to quality treatment – a core tenant of ASAM’s mission.
Each priority requires ASAM resources, which do have limits - money, people and time – but these are challenges we are willing to overcome.
So what are these three areas?
The first focuses on advocacy with public and private payers to assure access to treatment. Payer policies that affect patient access to all kinds of addiction treatment are an ongoing issue. Especially as Medicaid coverage expands, more addiction patients have Medicare coverage, and members have further experience with health plans on the exchanges. Our headquarters staff receive calls and emails from members on a regular basis about a range of payer related issues, including prior authorization policies, restrictive coverage and network inclusion policies to name just a few. Expanding our resources to respond to these issues is critical to assure patient access.
The second area focuses on quality improvement. Developing standards, performance measures and guidelines, keeping these resources current, and driving their application in practice require a long-term commitment to quality improvement. ASAM has recently updated The ASAM Criteria which is being adopted in the public and private sectors. We are developing a range of associated products such as an electronic clinical decision tool that will standardize the use of The ASAM Criteria. ASAM’s Quality Improvement Council has also been working recently on standards, guidelines and performance measures and now has the organization’s commitment to grow and expand this important work.
The third priority area involves expanding the Fundamentals of Addiction Medicine curriculum to provide an effective way to increase the knowledge and competency of primary care providers in treating addiction. Last year, ASAM launched a live course component of this curriculum. Over the next three years, the curriculum will be expanded to include a range of online and competency-based trainings whose completion will result in recognition for learners’ completion.
The Fundamentals of Addiction Medicine curriculum is designed to change attitudes, expand skills – and ultimately to improve patient care. I believe in the Culture of Denial, part of the standard culture of America. It has kept physicians from being aware of the ubiquity of substance use disorders and their important role in responding to the presence of problems. We have plenty of research evidence that early recognition encourages earlier behavior changes and better long-term outcome.
Expanding the skills of the thousands of primary care professionals will help to expand access to treatment by providing early screening, early interventions and early referrals for expert treatment by addiction specialists. It will also create more public awareness, health care awareness and ongoing dialogue at home and in the physician’s office.
The BOD’s priority setting process was titled “Envisioning the Future.” With our plans of action in place, we’d welcome your involvement and feedback in the comments below on how to make these priorities a vision for today.