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People struggling with the disease of addiction exist in survival mode and reach for fragmented community resources as they can. Similarly, many hospitals struggle in survival mode with limited resources and a band-aid approach to addiction treatment. Just as people struggling with addiction need a support system on their journey to recovery, hospitals must develop viable treatment options for patients with addiction that prepare both the patient and the hospital for success In this conversation, Tony Torrente, president and CEO of SpecialCare Hospital Management, shares how hospitals can address the addiction crisis plaguing America’s communities.

Where can a hospital begin to shift from survival mode to success as it addresses the addiction crisis in its local community?

TT: The hospital’s executive team can start by identifying gaps in treatment services, both internally and in your community. Chances are your Community Health Needs Assessment (CHNA) will identify substance abuse as a top priority in your community. If so, are you struggling to find a cost-effective solution to address this need? You may also be seeing a high volume of substance abuse patients admitted (in crisis) to your already overburdened and understaffed ED. Does an inpatient medical detoxification service already exist in the community that can serve the needs of diverse patient populations facing a variety of substance abuse problems? A medical detox service in the hospital is often the missing piece in the puzzle of treatment options that may be out there. For most who struggle with substance abuse, this treatment option can be a great first step to recovery.

The hospital has identified a need for medical detoxification in the community. What are the key elements for a successful medical detox service in the hospital?

TT: At their core, successful medical detox services have consistent expertise in the clinical management of medical detox patients. These services use evidence-based best practices and protocols for this patient population with ongoing training and development for doctors, nurses and additional staff. These services also use continuous measurement of key clinical metrics to drive specific quality improvement processes. The successful service develops a community outreach system that is woven into the local addiction recovery community. This ensures an easily accessible intake system that bypasses the ED, allowing your ED team to focus on other patients. They also ensure that patients are reintegrated into the community with a comprehensive aftercare plan to prepare them for significant success in their recovery.

Can a medical detox service be financially viable for a hospital?

TT: Absolutely. In a hospital setting, many commercial insurance providers, Medicare, and most Medicaid programs reimburse hospitals for medical detox services. Additionally, hospitals that are eligible to participate in the 340B drug pricing program may find that adding a medical detox service provides many additional benefits to the hospital. The development of a medical detoxification service is an opportunity to increase census and revenue and reduce the total length of hospital stay. Furthermore, there is no need to establish a separate parts unit to accommodate this patient population. Voluntary medical detox patients can be integrated into an existing medical-surgical unit, eliminating any capital expenditures, renovations, and large start-up costs.

Would a medical detox service be successful in a rural hospital?

TT: According to the CDC, many states are seeing higher overdose rates in rural areas than in urban areas. This trend creates a niche opportunity for rural hospitals to attract a new patient population. In fact, one of our hospital partners, LaSalle General Hospital in Jena, La., took the proactive step to implement the New Vision™ Medical Detox service five years ago. They were just awarded Outstanding Rural Health Organization of the Year by the Louisiana Rural Health Association for their efforts.

What can I do to implement a medical detox service in my hospital?

TT: The first step is to gain the programming expertise needed to develop and launch a specialized service. You may also consider aligning with a strategic partner, such as SpecialCare, that has the expertise to provide high-quality, cost-effective service. You might be surprised how quickly you can begin to address a need you’ve identified but haven’t yet found a practical solution for.

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For more information, visit: specialcarecorp.com/modernhealthcare

Source: Break the Cycle of Addiction: Shift Your Hospital’s Focus on Addiction Services from Survival to Success