Project ECHO: Capacity Building for Compassionate Tapering

Program Description:

Through the generous support from Harvard Pilgrim Health Care, this program seeks to improve the lives of patients and families living with Chronic Pain and/or Substance Use Disorder (SUD) by enhancing the capacity and quality of services available to patients in their communities through their primary care practices.  Specifically the program will work to establish a primary care culture that understands addiction as a chronic disease and, is prepared and capable of addressing the emergence of underlying trauma and mental health conditions that may become apparent in the course of the compassionate tapering of opioids.  By deepening behavioral health integration to address SUD, the program will support enhanced access to appropriate care in local communities, and providing more trusted relationships between patients, families, and their primary care teams. By enhancing provider knowledge and building competence and confidence, the program will improve the experience, quality, and safety of care for patients with this dangerous and often deadly disease through evidence-based treatment.

Learning objectives:

This program will increase the capacity and competence of providers and practice teams to succeed in compassionate tapering of patients on opioids by supporting deepened behavioral health integration in Patient Centered Medical Home (PCMH) practices.

The program will employ strategies that:

  • Establish cultural changes to reduce stigma of mental health and substance use disorders;
  • Explore the importance of screening for mental health concerns with underlying opioid use, defining why behavioral health conditions are important to identify and address;
  • Build competencies to deliver trauma-informed care and integrated behavioral health treatment;
  • Implement medication assisted therapies and models of care for SUD;
  • Bolster skills to appropriately identify and treat substance use disorders in the course of opioid and other medication tapering;
  • Develop models for team based addiction treatment through relationships with integrated behavioral health clinicians, addiction specialists and providers of alternative treatment in the medical neighborhood; and
  • Build individual and organizational resilience to support complex presentations and improvement technologies.

Intended Audience:

A cohort of integrated behavioral health clinicians and affiliated primary care practice teams located in across Maine in communities where PCMH primary care practices are active in their medical neighborhoods to improve their collective response to SUD.

Funder Acknowledgement:

Funding for this project is provided by the Harvard Pilgrim Health Care Quality Grants Program 2017.