Primary care providers (PCPs) sit at the hub of an interdisciplinary and dispersed healthcare field. Part of their job is to treat the more common healthcare disorders while understanding all of the treatments available for patients. PCPs commonly refer more complex diseases to specialists such as oncologists, internal medicine specialists or even addiction medicine facilities.
This article looks at a number of ways PCPs can help their patients successfully find, enter, and benefit from addiction treatment. How can primary care physicians refer patients to the right resources for additional help beyond an office visit?
Julian A. Milton, STAT News
STAT News suggests: “Many primary care providers have been avoiding the battle against opioid addiction and opioid overdoses. But they shouldn’t.” That is because PCPs are perfectly positioned to, first, diagnose the problem, and, second, to make the referral for addiction treatment. That is because family practice providers are not episodic; in theory, they have the opportunity to get to know their patients over the long term. That is something that a specialist simply does not have the opportunity to do.
This puts the PCP at the forefront of the addiction battle. Unfortunately, most family practice residency programs do not provide a lot of specialty training in this area. This makes some PCPs leery of the substance abuser and, in fact, some partake of the particular stigma surrounding these diseases.
Given the “front-and-center” role of the PCP, here are three steps they can take to help patients move toward addiction treatment:
Family practice physicians can help fight the opioid epidemic with just three strategies. They can serve an important role in the addiction treatment paradigm and just might save some lives in the process.