Medication for Addiction Treatment (MAT) has proven to be highly effective in addressing substance use disorder, yet only a fraction of those who could benefit from it are receiving it. One hurdle is that health care professionals must be authorized by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) to prescribe addiction medications like buprenorphine. Under DEA regulations, providers must be “waivered” to prescribe MAT.

The Grayken Center launched an initiative that makes Boston Medical Center a leader among hospitals nationwide by implementing universal waiver training for physicians and other medical professionals across all of its primary care departments. The importance of the waiver training goes beyond prescribing MAT, and establishes BMC’s commitment to reducing the stigma around treatment of SUD and creating an environment where there can be an open dialogue between patients and all providers, leading to better care.

“The urgency of the opioid crisis means we have to accelerate everything and provide access to evidence-based medications when and where our patients show up.” said Colleen Labelle, Director of Office Based Addiction Training and Technical Assistance and of the Opioid Addiction Treatment ECHO at BMC. “Part of that effort involves making sure we train all providers, giving them the knowledge to have conversations with patients about substance use and facilitate seamless access to treatment. It’s also an important part of ensuring that providing addiction care isn’t optional but becomes a standard part of medical practice.”

BMC has already completed Phase 1 of this effort, which involved training all general internal medicine residents. Family medicine providers have also been trained. Trainings are underway for residency instructors and emergency department clinicians and next up are OB/GYN physicians and nurse practitioners, family medicine residents and general internal medicine physicians.