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Cutting-edge rating system for addiction treatment heralds new era of transparency

The United States is in the midst of an unprecedented opioid crisis, but the unfortunate reality is that only one out of 10 Americans with a substance use disorder (SUD) receives treatment. That statistic alone is shocking, but even worse, widespread adoption of evidence-based practices has been limited.

To help people get the information they need to make informed choices about the quality of their SUD treatment, Beacon Health Options is providing a three-year grant to Shatterproof for developing a rating system of addiction treatment programs. Shatterproof, a national nonprofit organization dedicated to reducing the devastation SUD causes families, is building the system so that the general public – as well as public and private payers, states and referral sources – can locate high-quality addiction treatment measured by objective criteria.

Treatment quality is varied, information lacking

What may seem obvious hasn’t always been. We can find ratings for dishwashers and general hospitals alike, but not so for treatment centers. Generally, addiction treatment programs have long operated without the standards of effectiveness and measures of long-term outcomes that the rest of medical care is well acquainted with, according to the Institute for Behavioral and Health, Inc.

However, with the new rating system, the consumer has a better chance at separating the effective from the ineffective – and the SUD treatment system is driven to become better.

To compound the problem, individuals themselves don’t have the information to make informed choices. A treatment center in Florida or Arizona, for example, may be more appealing simply because of sunshine and warmer climates. After all, if an individual doesn’t have information that matters, a spa-like atmosphere in a warm climate, even if hundreds of miles away, can be enough to influence a decision. However, with the new rating system, the consumer has a better chance at separating the effective from the ineffective – and the SUD treatment system is driven to become better.

“In my many years as both a provider and executive in behavioral health care, I have worked towards improving substance use disorder treatment and making it more available to those who need it,” commented Dr. Russell Petrella, Beacon President and CEO. “I am 100 percent behind Beacon’s support for Shatterproof, a grassroots organization that draws on personal and business experience to get things done. This new rating system is yet another example of that unique blend of common sense and innovation.”

New rating system provides information, promotes transparency

Shatterproof’s rating system is the next step in the organization’s work to improve SUD treatment and its availability. In 2017, Shatterproof announced eight fundamental principles of care, many of which have been incorporated into the Shatterproof Rating System. Beacon, along with 15 other major payers, has signed off on the principles as they align with our own evidence-based approach to SUD treatment, which promotes medication-assisted treatment as a highly effective option central to individualized care.

The quality of addiction programs varies widely across the country. The principles, in conjunction with the rating system, are important steps in helping to promote transparency and improve quality. By increasing accountability and transparency, the system will help to drive improvement as providers become motivated to adopt best-practices, and payers have the information necessary to reward quality care. Further, standardized information about the levels of care offered at all types of treatment centers, plus insight into the quality of care offered at that facility, will help families cut through the confusion.

Using data from three sources – insurance claims, provider surveys, and consumer experience – the system is searchable by location, insurance provider, quality, and more. It is easy for consumers to understand, free for them to use, and allows them to report on their own experiences with addiction treatment programs.

Starting in January, Shatterproof will pilot the system in five states. In addition to Beacon, the pilot is made possible through funding from the Laura and John Arnold Foundation, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, and a coalition of five other national health insurers.

To find out more information and to stay updated as the project progresses, visit www.shatterproof.org/.

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