“The COVID-19 pandemic has clearly demonstrated that the system by which we care for those with addiction is inadequate and fragile,” said NAM President Victor J. Dzau, chair of the Action Collaborative. “We continue to believe that public-private partnerships and collaboration across siloes is the best and most promising way to establish an ecosystem of care that supports the continuum of prevention and ensures high-quality, evidence-based, and person-centered care for all. I am very encouraged to see the strong commitment of our collaborators for the next phase of our work.”
Even before the COVID-19 pandemic hit US shores, America faced significant challenges in addressing our opioid epidemic, including an inadequate addiction medicine workforce, unequal payment for addiction treatment, a lack of access to treatment options, and varied education and training protocols for health professionals. Those ongoing challenges have proliferated and become even more daunting as America enters a second year of combating COVID-19 while also battling the opioid epidemic.
“Our addiction crisis is an epidemic within the pandemic,” said co-chair of the Action Collaborative Ruth Katz, Vice President and Executive Director of the Health, Medicine, & Society Program at the Aspen Institute. “The weaknesses in the health system that we identified and studied before the pandemic have become impossible to ignore. The need for a robust framework designed to be responsive not only to the current opioid epidemic, but also to future waves of substance misuse is critical. The Action Collaborative continues to convene stakeholders from across many fields of health and medicine to collectively develop and elevate solutions to this complex challenge.”
As part of its phase one work, the Action Collaborative issued priorities and strategies to advance the health and well-being of individuals experiencing substance use disorders and chronic pain during COVID-19. It will continue to develop this work during its second phase.
“The pandemic necessitates accelerating health care transformation,” said Action Collaborative co-chair Jonathan Perlin, President, Clinical Services and Chief Medical Officer, HCA Healthcare. “We have seen more progress in telemedicine and flexibility regarding the provision of care and licensure in the past 12 months than in the past 12 years. It is our responsibility to support the changes that provide better care for those experiencing addiction and that allow clinicians to practice at the top of their license – and to draw attention to issues that interfere with how to best support patients and health care workers. The many organizations involved in the work of the Action Collaborative are uniquely poised to lead these revolutionary changes that will hopefully allow health care workers to provide comprehensive, continuous, patient-centered care for every person with a substance use disorder.”
Strategic planning for the next phase of the Collaborative is ongoing, and virtual public meetings will be scheduled throughout 2021 and 2022. For more information or to register to receive updates, visit nam.edu/OpioidCollaborative.
Sponsors of the Collaborative include:
- Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education
- American Hospital Association
- American Medical Association
- American Society of Health-System Pharmacists
- Arnold Ventures
- Association of American Medical Colleges
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
- CDC Foundation
- Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services
- Council of Medical Specialty Societies
- Federation of State Medical Boards
- HCA Healthcare
- National Association of Behavioral Healthcare
- National Institute on Drug Abuse
- Robert Wood Johnson Foundation
- Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration
- The Pew Charitable Trusts
- UnitedHealth Group
- S. Department of Veterans Affairs
Launched in 2018, the Action Collaborative on Countering the U.S. Opioid Epidemic is a network of organizations committed to developing, curating, and disseminating multi-sector solutions designed to reduce opioid misuse and improve outcomes for individuals, families, and communities. Products and activities of the Opioid Action Collaborative include:
- a series of expert papers
- listening sessions to hear from people with lived experience and clinicians who treat patients with chronic pain
- a webinar series on the intersection of COVID-19 and addiction and
- a number of in-person and virtual convenings.
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