In 2016, AHRQ invested in a grant initiative, Increasing Access to Medication-Assisted Treatment of Opioid Abuse in Rural Primary Care Practices, to support rural primary care practices in delivering medication-assisted treatment (MAT). AHRQ awarded these five grants to:
- Colorado: “Implementing Technology and Medication-Assisted Team Training and Treatment in Rural Colorado (IT MATTTRs Colorado),” University of Colorado, Denver.
- North Carolina: “UNC Extension for Community Healthcare Outcomes for Rural Primary Care Medication-Assisted Treatment (UNC ECHO for MAT),” University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
- Oklahoma: “MAT Expansion in Rural Oklahoma,” American Institutes for Research in partnership with the State of Oklahoma.
- Pennsylvania: “Enhancing the Access and Quality of MAT for Individuals With Opioid Use Disorder (OUD) in Rural Pennsylvania’s Medicaid Primary Care Practices,” Pennsylvania State Department of Human Services in partnership with the Pennsylvania Office of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services and the University of Pittsburgh.
- New Mexico: “ECHO-F Model to Expand Medication Assisted Treatment in Rural Primary Care,” University of New Mexico.
AHRQ is providing approximately $12 million over 3 years for this grant program to learn more about effective strategies that help implement MAT for OUD in rural primary care practices. These grantees hope to improve access to treatment in rural areas by increasing the number of primary care providers offering MAT. They will use innovative means to support patients and clinicians, such as patient-controlled smart phone apps and virtual training and consultations through Project ECHO. As a result, participating practices will provide care to more than 20,000 individuals with OUD.
The AHRQ Academy supports these grantees by offering technical assistance and developing and disseminating resources and information about MAT in rural primary care practices. Since it was created, the Academy has been a coordinating center and national resource for people committed to integrating mental health and substance use treatment into primary care, so it is uniquely positioned to serve as a partner to the grantees.
Using the lessons learned from these projects, AHRQ, together with the grantees, will develop guidance for how other communities and primary care teams can address common challenges when offering MAT in rural primary care. The Academy will serve as a platform to distribute the findings at the end of the grantees’ research.