- Well-supported scientific evidence shows that the traditional separation of substance use disorder treatment and mental health services from mainstream health care has created obstacles to successful care coordination. Efforts are needed to support integrating screening, assessments, interventions, use of medications, and care coordination between general health systems and specialty substance use disorder treatment programs or services.
- Supported scientific evidence indicates that closer integration of substance use-related services in mainstream health care systems will have value to both systems. Substance use disorders are medical conditions and their treatment has impacts on and is impacted by other mental and physical health conditions. Integration can help address health disparities, reduce health care costs for both patients and family members, and improve general health outcomes.
- Supported scientific evidence indicates that individuals with substance use disorders often access the health care system for reasons other than their substance use disorder. Many do not seek specialty treatment but they are over-represented in many general health care settings.
- Promising scientific evidence suggests that integrating care for substance use disorders into mainstream health care can increase the quality, effectiveness, and efficiency of health care. Many of the health home and chronic care model practices now used by mainstream health care to manage other diseases could be extended to include the management of substance use disorders.
- Insurance coverage for substance use disorder services is becoming more robust as a result of the Paul Wellstone and Pete Domenici Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act (MHPAEA) and the Affordable Care Act. The Affordable Care Act also requires non-grandfathered individual and small group market plans to cover services to prevent and treat substance use disorders.
- Health care delivery organizations, such as health homes and accountable care organizations (ACOs), are being developed to better integrate care. The roles of existing care delivery organizations, such as community health centers, are also being expanded to meet the demands of integrated care for substance use disorder prevention, treatment, and recovery.
- Use of Health IT is expanding to support greater communication and collaboration among providers, fostering better integrated and collaborative care, while at the same time protecting patient privacy. It also has the potential for expanding access to care, extending the workforce, improving care coordination, reaching individuals who are resistant to engaging in traditional treatment settings, and providing outcomes and recovery monitoring.
- Supported evidence indicates that one fundamental way to address racial and ethnic disparities in health care is to increase the number of people who have health insurance coverage.
- Well-supported evidence shows that the current substance use disorder workforce does not have the capacity to meet the existing need for integrated health care, and the current general health care workforce is undertrained to deal with substance use-related problems. Health care now requires a new, larger, more diverse workforce with the skills to prevent, identify, and treat substance use disorders, providing “personalized care” through integrated care delivery.
*The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) summarizes strength of evidence as: “Well-supported”: when evidence is derived from multiple controlled trials or large-scale population studies; “Supported”: when evidence is derived from rigorous but fewer or smaller trials; and “Promising”: when evidence is derived from a practical or clinical sense and is widely practiced.