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ASAM Collaboration with Brandeis and Cigna Tests Addiction Treatment Performance Measures

by Beth Haynes | May 3, 2016

This week, the health insurer Cigna issued a press release announcing a collaboration with ASAM to test and validate three ASAM performance measures. The testing in Cigna’s data set follows a recent project by ASAM that tested the three performance measures using data from the Veterans Health Administration (VA) led by Dr. Alex Harris (see the results of the VA study in Journal of Addiction Medicine).

“Measure testing is an essential component of performance measure development, adoption, and dissemination,” said Corey Waller, MD, Chair of the Performance Measures Expert Panel and Legislative Advocacy Committee, “This work will help assure that ASAM’s performance measures are broadly accepted and adopted in the treatment of patients with addiction.”

ASAM is working with Brandeis University, under the leadership of Associate Professor Cindy Parks Thomas, PhD, to test and validate three addiction treatment performance measures. Three measures will be tested using Cigna data in this study: use of pharmacotherapy for individuals with alcohol use disorders; pharmacotherapy for individuals with opioid use disorders; and follow up after withdrawal management. These three measures are a subset of nine measures developed by a Performance Measures Expert Panel of ASAM’s Practice Improvement and Performance Measure Action Group (PIPMAG). The nine measures have been designated high priority by ASAM based on criteria decided upon by the Expert Panel, including the existence of supporting scientific evidence, earlier models for measurement and specification, and the availability of relevant data elements.

The performance measures originated with a project that started in 2014, when ASAM released its Standards of Care for the Addiction Specialist Physician (Standards). These Standards were developed by the Standards and Outcomes of Care Expert Panel of ASAM’s PIPMAG. To assess how and if the Standards were being used in the physician’s practice, the PIPMAG Performance Measures Expert Panel developed performance measures in order to evaluate physician performance against the Standards.

For the validation using Cigna data, Dr. Thomas’ team will apply the same specifications applied to these measures during the pre-testing using the Veteran’s Administration data sample. By using the same specifications that were applied to public data sets, ASAM will be able to test the feasibility of the measures in commercial administrative claims data sets. The project will incorporate feedback from other members of the PIPMAG Performance Measures Expert Panel, and will take approximately six months. A report and tables will be delivered to ASAM, with a manuscript for publication.

The performance measure testing project is one component of ASAM’s quality and science initiatives aimed at improving the quality of care for patients with addiction. Most recently, other quality initiatives include the development of ASAM’s National Practice Guideline for the Use of Medications in the Treatment of Addiction Involving Opioid Use. ASAM’s Quality Improvement Council, chaired by Dr. Margaret Jarvis, oversees the development of clinical and quality related projects. ASAM’s long-term goal is for the performance measures to be endorsed by the National Quality Forum, and be used as benchmarks for clinicians who treat patients with addiction and substance use disorders.

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  1. Lorne Cross Mar 14, 2018 - 07:03 PM
    It's nice to see the insurance finally taking a more involved approach with addiction medicine.

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