More than 22.5 million Americans meet the criteria for substance abuse or dependence. Unfortunately, many of these people have limited or no access to behavioral health treatment such as psychiatric counseling, inpatient stays at rehabilitation centers, or outpatient treatment.
In many areas of the country, the primary care physician (PCP) is the only medical professional who is accessible to patients with mental health or substance abuse disorders. Primary care physicians are also, in most cases the first line of screening and primary source of referrals for inpatient / outpatient treatment. Alternatively, some PCP treat the disorder in his / her own practice.
Treatment centers should team up with local PCPs to develop a plan to identify and treat patients with addiction disorder. By sharing knowledge and expertise, the PCP can improve the health of their patients, and ensure that patients who need more intensive care - receive it.
Many PCPs report being unable to identify substance abuse disorders. By sharing standardized screening tools, you can help PCPs detect substance abuse early and follow the correct treatment protocol, whether it is counseling, referral to your facility, or use of medicine such a Naltrexone or Buprenorphine.
Since patients are accustomed to being asked many questions by the PCP during their visit, a screening is a natural fit for an appointment. PCPs can also screen for comorbid disorders that may contribute to substance abuse.
Many patients may not need the intensive treatment that is provided at a substance abuse facility, but require counseling to prevent substance use from getting worse. Because this is not the primary area of focus for most PCPs, clinicians at treatment centers can help educate PCPs on warning signs and other techniques for identifying addictive behavior.
Motivational interviewing is a great tool and can help physicians identify reasons the patient may be struggling and want to change their behavior. Listening to the patient and empowering them to change is more effective than simply telling the patient to change. A partnership between PCPs and treatment center professionals could be a effective first step in initiating this change.
Set Up a Telemedicine Endpoint
While PCPs may have the skills to care for substance abuse disorder, many simply do not have the time. Caring for addiction takes many follow-up appointments and check-ins to be effective.
However, with telemedicine technology and insurance policies that reimburse for these sessions, facilities can set up a secure “endpoint” in the PCP’s office. An endpoint is simply a private room equipped with a screen, secure Internet connection, webcam, and audio equipment. If a primary care physician has a positive screen for substance abuse disorders, they can connect the patient with your team through the telemedicine technology.
A telemedicine endpoint could also be used for follow-ups and behavioral health counseling. This makes it easier for patients who may be far away from treatment centers to receive proper care. It also allows facilities to truly team up with the PCP, who can provide prescription medicines and other important in-person support.
Partnering with PCPs gives treatment center owners a new, strong referral source and allows patients better access to substance abuse care. These types of partnerships could also help you receive additional insurance revenue through CMS' Quality Payment Program (QPP), and help you negotiate higher in-network rates with insurers.
Datapro Billing can help you follow the billing procedures and regulations for these services. Contact us to learn more.