Sustained Implementation of a Multicomponent Strategy to Increase Emergency Department-Initiated Interventions for Opioid Use Disorder

      Study objective

      There is strong evidence supporting emergency department (ED)-initiated buprenorphine for opioid use disorder, but less is known about how to implement this practice. Our aim was to describe implementation, maintenance, and provider adoption of a multicomponent strategy for opioid use disorder treatment in 3 urban, academic EDs.


      We conducted a retrospective analysis of electronic health record data for adult patients with opioid use disorder-related visits before (March 2017 to November 2018) and after (December 2018 to July 2020) implementation. We describe patient characteristics, clinical treatment, and process measures over time and conducted an interrupted time series analysis using a patient-level multivariable logistic regression model to assess the association of the interventions with buprenorphine use and other outcomes. Finally, we report provider-level variation in prescribing after implementation.


      There were 2,665 opioid use disorder-related visits during the study period: 28% for overdose, 8% for withdrawal, and 64% for other conditions. Thirteen percent of patients received medications for opioid use disorder during or after their ED visit overall. Following intervention implementation, there were sustained increases in treatment and process measures, with a net increase in total buprenorphine of 20% in the postperiod (95% confidence interval 16% to 23%). In the adjusted patient-level model, there was an immediate increase in the probability of buprenorphine treatment of 24.5% (95% confidence interval 12.1% to 37.0%) with intervention implementation. Seventy percent of providers wrote at least 1 buprenorphine prescription, but provider-level buprenorphine prescribing ranged from 0% to 61% of opioid use disorder-related encounters.


      A combination of strategies to increase ED-initiated opioid use disorder treatment was associated with sustained increases in treatment and process measures. However, adoption varied widely among providers, suggesting that additional strategies are needed for broader uptake.
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