Building a collaborative, community-based approach to the opioid crisis, changing how addiction is treated in Ohio
People with substance-use disorders touch the healthcare system many times before actually being able to enter treatment. One reason: healthcare’s siloed specialties let people slip through the cracks too often. A budding movement to mainstream behavioral healthcare could change that—training doctors and nurses not only to treat physical symptoms, but to address the underlying behavioral causes of chronic diseases. Traditional methods of change move too slowly and the scale of the opioid epidemic specifically is now too great to rely on old practices. There simply are not enough resources for even integrated medicine to tackle this crisis and so an innovative approach is needed to make an immediate, meaningful impact and turn the tide on the largest drug epidemic in the history of the United States.
As head of behavioral health operations for Cincinnati’s biggest nonprofit health system, Kang is building a community network of collaborative care and changing how addiction is identified and treated. First, his team introduced rapid community-wide behavioral health access by integrating psychiatrists and psychologists with primary care doctors. These teams screen for common mental and behavioral health conditions, giving thousands of patients access to immediate treatment and services right in primary care doctors’ offices. Now, he has launched an Addiction Treatment Collaborative to formally coordinate treatment services with the outside community, bringing over a dozen once-segregated recovery centers and other local actors to work in concert with hospitals. Organizations in the group leverage their own strengths, but share data, best-practices, and even patients, instead of competing for revenue. Together, they create a true treatment-on-demand network of care for patients to access addiction treatment any day, any time, across a broad geographic region.
My civic hero:
Larry Graham, M.D.