CENTER CITY, Minn., Sept. 14, 2020 /PRNewswire/ -- The Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation has begun collaborating with health systems to combine on-site medical services with technology-enabled behavioral health services in an innovative effort to improve outcomes and reduce healthcare costs for people who receive lifesaving liver transplants.
Almost a third of the 8,000 Americans who receive liver transplants each year have an alcohol use disorder that is a significant risk factor in the time leading up to and after their transplant. However, due to medical complications and other factors, they often are unable to participate in facility-based substance use disorder treatment services at that critical time.
Now, liver-transplant patients are among the many Americans benefitting from an explosion in behavioral health tele-services.
"Every day, we are discovering more people who want or need virtual substance use disorder treatment services," said Bob Poznanovich, vice president of business development for Hazelden Betty Ford, the nation's leading nonprofit substance use and mental health disorder treatment provider. "When Northwestern Medicine first reached out to discuss virtual services for liver-transplant recipients, we recognized it as an innovative opportunity to improve outcomes and reduce overall costs by meeting those patients where they are—often at home, managing a complex set of co-occurring health conditions that must be addressed in a coordinated fashion. We've since been able to take the approach into other health systems as well."
Haripriya Maddur, MD, assistant professor at Northwestern Medicine, said sustained alcohol abstinence is critical to successful long-term outcomes for liver-transplant patients and reduces lifetime healthcare utilization and costs.
"Although transplant is curative, patients with end-stage liver disease require treatment that is long-lasting and accessible. Many patients undergoing transplant evaluation are critically ill and providing them with resources that are unique to their needs will allow for improved outcomes. Moreover, easier access to addictions resources will allow for the ability to transplant more individuals who wouldn't otherwise have the ability to enroll in addictions counseling," Dr. Maddur said.
Hazelden Betty Ford launched virtual outpatient care as part of its RecoveryGo behavioral health service in March, after a year of planning and piloting, and then quickly expanded and sped up its rollout due to the enormous needs created by the pandemic. In just a few months, the national nonprofit has provided thousands of people across the country with virtual addiction treatment, mental health and family services, and is evaluating outcomes through its Butler Center for Research.
"As part of our routine healthcare operations and to support our collaborations with other providers and health systems, Hazelden Betty Ford is monitoring the effectiveness of our new virtual intensive outpatient addiction treatment services, and the preliminary data are promising. Thus far, very early one-month outcomes suggest that virtual outpatient care has been just as effective as in-person outpatient treatment.," Poznanovich said. "If our preliminary results hold long-term, that will bode well far into the future for liver-transplant patients and millions of others who struggle with access to quality care for substance use and mental health issues."
About the Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation
The Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation is a force of healing and hope for individuals, families and communities affected by addiction to alcohol and other drugs. As the nation's leading nonprofit provider of comprehensive inpatient and outpatient addiction and co-occurring mental health treatment for adults and youth, the Foundation has 17 locations nationwide, with expansive on-site and telehealth solutions and a network of collaborators throughout health care. With a legacy that began in 1949 and includes the 1982 founding of the Betty Ford Center, the Foundation today also encompasses a graduate school of addiction studies, a publishing division, an addiction research center, recovery advocacy and thought leadership, professional and medical education programs, school-based prevention resources and a specialized program for children who grow up in families with addiction. Learn more at www.HazeldenBettyFord.org and on Twitter @hazldnbettyford.