CHICAGO – The American Medical Association (AMA) is launching a new digital tool kit as part of its ongoing efforts to improve access to high-quality treatment for patients seeking multidisciplinary pain care and for a substance use disorder. The tool kit will be used by the AMA and the nation’s medical societies to urge physicians to upload stories about their patients who encounter obstacles when seeking care for pain and/or a substance use disorder.

The “Share Your Story” campaign is part of the AMA’s work to end the opioid epidemic and is designed to highlight physician efforts as well as urge payers and policymakers to improve access to treatment.

“We know that prior authorization and other administrative practices used by health insurers can impede appropriate, necessary care—resulting in unnecessary harms and sometimes fatal consequences—for a patient with a substance use disorder,” said Patrice A. Harris, MD, chair of the AMA Opioid Task Force. “These stories will enable us to identify the unique challenges faced by patients and physicians and share them with health insurers and policymakers in support of solutions to increase access to care. Without proper treatment and access to care, this epidemic will only get worse.”

A recent study of six large cities found that prior authorization for buprenorphine, used to treat opioid addiction, occurred 42 percent of the time, often delaying patients’ access to necessary medicine at a crucial point in their potential recovery. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, in 2016 alone, nearly 90 percent of people who need treatment for illicit drug use didn’t get it, largely due to practices such as these. Physicians agree that these practices must be discontinued, and medication assisted treatment (MAT), the gold standard in treatment for opioid use disorder, needs to be immediately available.

Physicians can share their story here: https://www.end-opioid-epidemic.org/treatment/treatment-contact-form/

The AMA Opioid Task Force recommendations to end the nation’s opioid epidemic can be found here: https://www.end-opioid-epidemic.org/

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