ASAM Report On Performance Measures For Addiction Specialist Physicians Released

By John Lavitt 04/01/15

TREATMENT PROFESSIONAL NEWS: These nine performance measures have the potential to improve addiction practices across the board.


In an effort to establish much-needed benchmarks for addiction-related care, the American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM) has created a detailed report on "Performance Measures for the Addiction Specialist Physician.” Drafted by a joint panel of scientific researchers and addiction medicine professionals, the report describes nine measures to address key areas of concern in addiction medicine and health-care delivery. When implemented, the measures have the potential to greatly improve patient and health-care outcomes.

According to ASAM President Dr. Stuart Gitlow, "One driver behind the need for standards of care and performance measures for addiction specialist physicians is the epidemic of prescription drug use and addiction involving heroin and prescription painkillers and the need for specialty consultation." Nearly 1 in 10 Americans are suffering from addiction and the related consequences of the disease. As a direct result, quality addiction-care services are needed to address a lack of access to high quality, evidence-based treatment options.

Dr. Michael Miller, chair of the multi-specialty work group that oversaw the performance measure development, explained the genesis of the project when he said, "While there are many measures across different areas of health care, there are very few that specifically address care provided by the addiction specialist physician." Part of a multi-year initiative by ASAM, the report is a step towards the standardization of healthcare processes for evaluation and management of addiction by physicians. Given the growing problem with drug misuse and abuse, the goal is to raise the quality of addiction practice across the nation.

The release of the nine performance measures is only one step in a long-term plan to improve addiction practices. Dr. Corey Waller, chair of the Performance Measures Expert Panel, commented, "ASAM will continue to work toward assuring that the measures are broadly accepted and adopted in the treatment of patients with addiction. This will encourage physicians to make significant improvements in the quality of patient care for the addiction field."

The Performance Measures for Addiction Specialist Physicians can be accessed on ASAM's website. As noted in the press release written for the report’s release at the end of March, the development of the Standards of Care and Performance Measures for Addiction Specialist Physicians by ASAM's Practice Improvement and Performance Measurement Action Group was supported by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism and the National Institute on Drug Dependence. With such support behind the report in conjunction with ASAM, the hope is that medical providers will pay attention to the recommendations.

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Growing up in Manhattan as a stutterer, John Lavitt discovered that writing was the best way to express himself when the words would not come. After graduating with honors from Brown University, he lived on the Greek island of Patmos, studying with his mentor, the late American poet Robert Lax. As a writer, John’s published work includes three articles in Chicken Soup For The Soul volumes and poems in multiple poetry journals and compilations. Active in recovery, John has been the Treatment Professional News Editor for The Fix. Since 2015, he has published over 500 articles on the addiction and recovery news website. Today, he lives in Los Angeles, trying his best to be happy and creative. Find John on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.