Background: Treating opioid use disorder (OUD) can be complex due to the clinical and social nature of a disease that it challenges. Medication assisted therapy (MAT), such as buprenorphine, is one of the preferred interventions for treating OUD. MAT is the backbone of OUD treatment because it has proven to be successful in keeping patients’ in treatment as compared to those who did not receive MAT (75% of patients given buprenorphine stayed in treatment after 1-year compared to 0% of patients given placebo).1 A major barrier in providing evidence-based MAT is access to safe and effective treatment for patients who lack financial stability and steady medical coverage. In 2016-2017, 153,000 Utahns had substance use disorders, and 139,000 of them (>4% of the state’s population) “needed but did not receive treatment for substance use.”2 For patients with OUD, it is important that treatment is received in a timely manner to encourage early MAT transitioning and lower incidences of relapse. The lack of access to Medicaid has been identified as one of the major barriers to receiving treatment and staying in recovery.3
Objective: Develop a succinct process guide to facilitate Medicaid enrollment for patients with OUD who are clients of Utah Support Advocates for Recovery Awareness (USARA). Utah Support Advocate for Recovery Awareness (USARA) is a non-profit community organization whose mission is to “celebrate, advocate, support, and empower people in all stages of addiction recovery through connecting to resources, building community, and raising awareness that long term recovery is possible.”3
Methods/Design: The project was executed in three phases. Phase one consisted of performing a strategic literature review, contacting agencies similar to USARA, and collaborating with experts to gather thorough information and knowledge on Medicaid access. During phase two, a succinct flowchart process guide was designed and crafted that specifically outlines the process for patients to enroll in Utah Medicaid. Phase three involved the feedback phase; validation and revision of crafted materials with USARA staff and peer recovery coaches.
Results: The creation of a simple, user-friendly guide provided a clearly defined process for recovery coaches to assist clients with OUD to enroll in Medicaid. Continued efforts are underway in establishing effectiveness of flowcharts with USARA recovery coaches to help clients take ownership in addressing their substance use disorder.
Conclusion: An iterative process was effective in creating a flowchart to assist recovery coaches in helping clients to attain MAT treatment in a reliable manner.