People who battle the disease of addiction exist in survival mode and reach out to fragmented community resources as best they can. Similarly, many hospitals battle in survival mode with limited resources and a Band-Aid approach to addiction treatment. Just as people struggling with addiction need a support system on their journey to recovery, hospitals need to develop viable treatment options for addiction patients that sets both the patient and the hospital up for success. In this conversation, Tony Torrente, President and CEO of SpecialCare Hospital Management, shares how hospitals can address the addiction crisis affecting communities across the U.S.
Where can a hospital start to move from survival mode to success while addressing the addiction crisis in their local community?
TT: The hospital’s executive team can begin by identifying gaps in treatment services, both internally and within your community. Most likely, your community health needs assessment (CHNA) identifies substance abuse as a top priority in your community. If so, are you struggling to come up with a cost-effective solution to address this need? You may also be seeing a high volume of patients with substance abuse being admitted (in a state of crisis) to your already over-stretched, under-staffed ED. Does an inpatient medical detox service already exist within the community, one that can address the needs of diverse patient populations facing a variety of substance abuse issues? A hospital-based, medical detox service is usually the missing piece to the puzzle in treatment options that may exist. For most who struggle with substance abuse, this treatment option can be a great first step to recovery.
The hospital has identified a need for medical detox in the community. What are the key elements to a successful hospital-based, medical detox service?
TT: At their core, successful medical detox services consistently have expertise in clinical management of medical detox patients. These services use evidenced-based best practices and protocols for this patient population with ongoing training and development for physicians, nurses and additional staff. These services also employ ongoing measurement of key clinical metrics to drive specific quality improvement processes. The successful service develops a community outreach system that is woven into the local addiction recovery community. This ensures an easy-access intake system that bypasses the ED, allowing your ED team to focus on other patients. They also ensure that patients are integrated back in the community with a full after care plan to set them up for meaningful success in their recovery.
Can a medical detoxification service be financially viable for a hospital?
TT: Absolutely. In an inpatient hospital setting, many commercial insurance providers, Medicare and most Medicaid programs reimburse hospitals for medical detoxification services. Also, hospitals that are eligible to participate in the 340B drug pricing program may find that adding a medical detox service provides many added benefits to the hospital. Developing a medical detox service is an opportunity to increase census and revenue and reduce the hospital’s overall length of stay. In addition, there is no need to establish a distinct-part unit to accommodate this patient population. Voluntary medical detox patients can be integrated into an existing medical-surgical unit, eliminating any capital expenses, renovations and large startup costs.
Would a medical detox service be successful in a rural hospital facility?
TT: According to the CDC, many states are seeing higher overdoes rates in rural areas than urban areas. This trend creates a niche opportunity for rural hospitals to attract a new patient population. In fact, one of our hospital partners, LaSalle General Hospital in Jena, La., took the proactive step to implement the New Vision™ medical detox service five years ago. They’ve just been awarded the Outstanding Rural Health Organization of the Year by the Louisiana Rural Health Association for their efforts.
What can I do to implement a medical detox service at my hospital?
TT: The first step is to gain the programmatic expertise required to develop and launch such a specialty service. You can also consider aligning yourself with a strategic partner, like SpecialCare, that has the expertise to deliver a high quality, cost-effective service. You might be surprised by how quickly you can begin addressing the need that you have identified but have yet to find a practical solution.
To learn more visit: specialcarecorp.com/modernhealthcare