Methods Our mental health team educated AltaMed leadership about the importance of enhancing our substance abuse screening and intervention program. Our leadership team supported their efforts to identify Academic partnerships to develop such a program. We were able to form a collaboration with researchers from the University of California, Los Angeles, who were testing the efficacy of the QUIT program that utilized a substance abuse screening tool (WHO ASSIST) and brief intervention protocol, and became a site for their multi-site study.
Results Our initial experience with the efficacy testing of the ASSIST for substance use screening and QUIT brief intervention protocol was favorable, and data suggested that the screening tool was effective at identifying patients in need of substance abuse counseling, and that it was feasible to provide brief counseling on substance abuse for patients with risky levels of drug use. Data from the project suggested that such counseling led to reductions in substance abuse among study patients. Our staff also viewed the program favorably. These positive initial experiences have provided momentum to expand the program to other sites. Because of the promising initial findings and new requirements from the Affordable Care Act mandating substance abuse screening for provider groups contracted through the insurance exchange, our leadership has been supportive of further grant opportunities to disseminate and implement the screening and intervention program at all of our sites.
Conclusions and Relevance Our experience demonstrates the value of Academic-Community collaboration in implementing innovations aimed at improving care for patients with substance abuse. The Academic partnership was important in initiating an evidence-based program and obtaining leadership support for the initiative.