The objective of this study was to assess the accuracy of the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) database for patients who use it to seek buprenorphine treatment.
Design and Measurements:
Buprenorphine providers within a 25-mile radius of the county with the highest drug-related death rates within the 10 states with the highest drug-related death rates were identified and called to determine whether the provider worked there, prescribed buprenorphine, accepted insurance, had appointments, or charged for visits.
The number of providers listed in each county ranged from 1 to 166, with 5 counties having <10 providers. In 3 counties no appointments were obtained, and another 3 counties had ≤3 providers with availability. Of the 505 providers listed, 355 providers (70.3%) were reached, 310 (61.4%) of the 505 listings were correct numbers, and 195 (38.6%) of the 505 providers in the listings provided buprenorphine. Of the 173 clinics that provided buprenorphine and were asked about insurance, 131 (75.7%) accepted insurance. Of the 167 clinics that provided buprenorphine and were asked about Medicaid, 105 (62.9%) accepted it. Wait times for appointments ranged from 1 to 120 days, with an average of 16.8 days for those that had a waitlist. Among the 39 providers who reported out-of-pocket costs, the average cost was $231 (range: $90 to $600). One hundred forty of the 505 providers listed in the database had appointments available (27.7%). Three hundred sixty-five of the 505 providers did not have appointments available (72.3%) for various reasons, including the fact that 120 providers (32.9% of the 365 providers) could not be reached, and 137 of the numbers (37.5% of the 365 listed numbers) were wrong. Other reasons appointments could not be obtained included the fact that providers did not treat outpatients, were not accepting new patients, were out of office, or required a referral.
Although the SAMHSA buprenorphine practitioner locator is used by patients and providers to locate treatment options, only a small portion of clinicians in the database ultimately offered initial appointments, implying that the database is only marginally useful for patients.