ASAM Creates Action Group to Improve Addiction Care

by Susan Awad | January 24, 2013


ASAM's PIPMAG Action Group.  Front Row Left to Right: Cherry Lowman, PhD (NIAAA); Elinore McCance-Katz, MD, PhD; Hyong Un, MD; Mady Chalk, PhD; Alina Salvatore, RPh, MS (SAMHSA); Penny Mills; Michael Miller, MD (Chair).  Back Row Left to Right: Jack McIntyre, MD; Daniel Kivlahan, PhD; Cary Sennett, MD, PhD; Margaret Kotz, DO; David Gastfriend, MD; Jeffery Wilkins, MD; Dennis McCarty, PhD; Sarah Duffy, PhD (NIDA); Susan Awad.  Not pictured: Harold Pincus, MD; Rebecca Kresowik (AMA)

This fall, ASAM kicked off an exciting project aimed at improving the quality and consistency of addiction treatment for patients that will support members on the ground providing addiction care. The Practice Improvement and Performance Measures Action Group (PIPMAG) was established by ASAM to address the reality that physicians are increasingly being held accountable for the quality of care they deliver and the impact they have on improving care in specialty settings and the general health care system as a whole. However, “to date, the development of standards of care and performance measurement for addiction specialist physicians have lagged behind other medical specialties,” says PIPMAG Chair, Dr. Michael Miller, FAPA, FASAM.

To lead the PIPMAG Steering Committee, ASAM convened a diverse group of subject matter experts and representatives from the American Psychiatric Association, the American Academy of Addiction Psychiatry, the American Osteopathic Academy of Addiction Medicine, and the American Medical Association. The group met this past fall to nominate members to two expert panels and a field review panel that are charged with identifying standards of care for addiction specialist physicians and defining the unique roles that addiction specialist physicians play in direct patient care and health systems outcomes.  All three panels will also contribute to a research agenda for practice improvement.

Dr. Margaret Jarvis chaired the first panel, which focused on standards and outcomes of addiction care. The panel will review existing standards of care for addiction treatment, identify and prioritize gaps in current standards and their evidence base, and define the addiction specialist physician’s roles in direct patient care and improving systems outcomes. “We are very excited to begin this important work that will improve the quality of addiction care and elevate the field of addiction treatment,” says Dr. Jarvis. This panel began its work with a meeting at ASAM’s headquarters in January 2013.

Dr. Margaret Jarvis, right, at the first PIPMAG meeting panel

Dr. Margaret Jarvis, right, at the first PIPMAG meeting panel

The second panel will be chaired by Constance Weisner, DrPH, MSW, and consider addiction specialist physician performance. Beginning in the fall of 2013, they will review current performance measures for addiction specialist physicians; define the domains of addiction specialist physician performance which should be measured; and identify process and outcome measures addressing the direct clinical care provided by addiction specialist physicians. Finally, this panel will identify opportunities for research addressing practice improvement, improved systems outcomes, and the use of accountability measures for physician performance.

When the action group completes its work, Dr. Miller expects that “standards and measures will be identified that will describe the unique role of the addiction specialist physician and that can be used to hold physicians accountable to a high standard of care.” These standards and measures will be integral to improving the quality and consistency of treatment provided to patients with the disease of addiction.

To learn more about PIPMAG, please contact Susan Awad.


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  1. Maria Johnson Apr 22, 2013 - 05:25 AM

    Very good to hear!

    Good Luck!

  2. Aldo Morales, M.D. Feb 18, 2013 - 02:24 PM
    I am in South Florida and available to help out in any way (ABAM; ABPN, Addiction Psychiatry).

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