Five States to Pilot ‘Rating System for Addiction Treatment Programs’

The rating system would drive improvement by setting a standard in the industry and increasing transparency and accountability.  Five states are partnering with national nonprofit Shatterproof to create the Rating System for Addiction Treatment Programs — a system that would essentially do for addiction treatment centers what TripAdvisor does for hotels.  The system, according to the organization, will deliver “trustworthy, standardized information about the levels and quality of care offered at all types of treatment centers.”

The first three states are Louisiana, Massachusetts and New York, and they’ll be joined by two more, which Shatterproof says it will announce in the next few weeks.

Creating such a system “will drive improvement among treatment programs by increasing accountability and transparency, and it will supply states and health-care payers with the information necessary to reward high-quality care,” according to Shatterproof, which Founder and CEO Gary Mendell launched after his son committed suicide over the shame he felt about his own addiction.

Abuse of tobacco, alcohol, illicit drugs and prescription opioids costs more than $740 billion annually by way of crime, lost work productivity and health care, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse. And according to a survey by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, as many as 90 percent of those who need drug rehab the most don’t receive it.

For those who do receive help, no system exists that makes it easy to choose a quality treatment program.

“The quality of care varies widely among addiction treatment programs, and individuals looking for care can’t identify high-quality programs,” Mendell said in a press release. “It is time a standard be set across all of addiction treatment, and the entire system aligns behind evidence-based care.”

Within the addiction treatment field, many addiction treatment practices are based not on what the evidence and research show best improves patient outcomes, said Samantha Arsenault, director of national treatment quality initiatives at Shatterproof, but on people’s life experiences, their philosophies about addiction or on payment structures versus what is best for the patient.

“One concrete example of that is that we are in the wake of an opioid epidemic and yet 60 percent of the specialty addiction treatment programs in the U.S. don’t offer a single medication to treat opioid use disorder,” she told Government Technology. “That would be like saying, ‘We are in the height of a diabetes crisis and 60 percent of the facilities that treat diabetes don’t offer insulin.’”

And this is why Shatterproof finds it absolutely critical not only to bring transparency for people seeking treatment so they can locate high-quality care, Arsenault added, but also to bring accountability to adhering to those best practices within the industry.

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