Buprenorphine treatment for opioid use disorder (OUD) has positive outcomes including reducing opioid-related morbidity and mortality. In March 2018, 58 of 102 counties in Illinois lacked access to medication for OUD.
Rush University created a fellowship training program with financial incentives to help expand buprenorphine treatment in Illinois. Fellows first completed an online waiver course, then attended an in-person intensive training weekend, and finally participated in a 9-month webinar series. Demographic and prescribing data were collected from fellows, as well as a comparison group of providers outside the fellowship who only completed a waiver training.
At the fellowship's end, 31 of 37 fellows (84%) reported they were actively prescribing buprenorphine. Of the 23 fellows who were not prescribing at the fellowship's beginning, 17 (74%) initiated prescribing by the end. Among the 16 nonfellowship subjects who only completed a waiver training, just two (13%) reported they were prescribing buprenorphine at the study period's end.
Our study indicates that providers need more training beyond the waiver to initiate buprenorphine prescribing. When resources are available to address a health crisis such as OUD, this model offers an innovative mechanism for delivering continuing medical education that produces outcomes quickly.