WIHI: Addiction Treatment Demystified: Proven, Practical Steps for Complex Care

Date: June 21, 2018


  • R. Corey Waller, MD, MS, FACEP, DFASAM, Addiction, Pain, Emergency Medicine Specialist; Managing Partner, Complex Care Consulting, LLC; Chair, Legislative Advocacy Committee for the American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM)
  • Catherine Mather, MA, Director, Institute for Healthcare Improvement (IHI

About 5 percent of patients in the US are individuals with complex needs. Many show up at hospital emergency departments with a combination of physical, socioeconomic, and behavioral health issues — only to return, again and again, sometimes in worse condition, because the current system isn't set up to address a multitude of problems. The burgeoning field of "complex care" is trying to break the cycle with new interventions and stronger connections to supportive services.
But addiction, a common thread among the complex patient population, is often dealt with differently. While the recent opioid epidemic has forced health care providers to change some of their prescription practices and to become more knowledgeable about substance use disorders in general, patients themselves are still typically 'referred out' for treatment — to a much less integrated and accessible system, already stretched to its limits.
What could the health care system offer that it's not offering now? We explored that and more on the June 21 episode of WIHI: Addiction Treatment Demystified: Proven, Practical Steps for Complex Care.


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