This month, we are taking a break from our Pandemic Perspective series to examine an existing working relationship between academia and government. Since we talk a lot on this podcast about how the research community and government partners or policymakers can work together more effectively, it made sense for us to dig into an existing policy collaboration between the two groups.
For our March episode, we explore the Pennsylvania Coordinated Medication-Assisted Treatment Program, or PacMAT, which builds evidence-based medication-assisted treatment (MAT) programs for Pennsylvanians suffering from opioid use disorder. Currently, there are 14 PacMAT centers throughout Pennsylvania that utilize a hub-and-spoke model. PacMAT’s hub-and-spoke model has an addiction specialist physician at the center as the hub, providing expert guidance and support to primary care physicians in rural and underserved areas of the state. The primary care physicians, who serve as the spokes, provide the direct-patient care and includes prescribing MAT, which is the gold standard for opioid use disorder treatment. PacMAT stemmed from a significant need throughout Pennsylvania for physicians who had 1) received a DEA (U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration) waiver for prescribing MAT to patients living with opioid use disorder, and 2) felt comfortable enough to even prescribe MAT to their patients.
We spoke with Laura Fassbender, executive advisor in the Office of the Secretary at the Pennsylvania Department of Health, and Max Crowley, Associate Professor of Human Development and Family Studies and the director of the Evidence-to-Impact Collaborative at Penn State University, about the challenges and successes behind developing the interdisciplinary architecture for PacMAT.
If you or someone you know is struggling with a substance use disorder, you can visit SAMHSA’s website for more information. If you enjoyed this episode about PacMAT and combatting the opioid crisis, check out our episode about tackling the stigma of the opioid epidemic with Glenn Sterner and Steve Forzato.
Note: This episode was recorded in early February 2021. Laura Fassbender has since left the Pennsylvania Department of Health and currently serves as the Vice President of Primary Care and Public Health Policy at the Wright Center for Community Health.