Nonprofit organization Shatterproof rolled out a free online tool that helps people find high-quality addiction treatment programs.
The platform, called ATLAS (Addiction Treatment Locator, Assessment, and Standards), was funded by Arnold Ventures and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.
Major insurers also backed the initiative, including Aetna, Anthem, Beacon Health Options, Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina, Cigna, Magellan Health and UnitedHealth Group.
The online tool, which is currently available in six states, evaluates addiction treatment facilities’ use of evidence-based best practices and offers an easy-to-use online interface to allow those in need and their loved ones to search for and compare facilities using criteria such as location, services offered and insurance provider so they can connect with appropriate treatment, according to Shatterproof.
The tool also enables patients to provide feedback on their experience.
The stress and isolation of the COVID-19 pandemic has contributed to rising overdose deaths, up by as much as 42% in May compared with last year, according to the Overdose Detection Mapping Application Program, a federal initiative that collects data from ambulance teams, hospitals and police.
“During a time when social isolation, economic hardship and disruption of everyday routines are worsening our nation’s addiction crisis, ATLAS is a critical new resource," said Shatterproof founder and CEO Gary Mendell in a statement.
Mendell founded Shatterproof, an organization that works to reverse the addiction crisis in the U.S., after losing his son Brian to addiction in 2011.
"When my son Brian needed addiction treatment, my family agonized trying to find him the right care. It was impossible to know who to trust,” he said. "ATLAS is a sea change in the addiction world. It will give those in need and their families the transparent and trustworthy information my family never had and will help put more people on the path to recovery.”
The online platform is available in Delaware, Louisiana, Massachusetts, New York, North Carolina and West Virginia. The platform lists all of the state’s addiction treatment facilities for any substance use disorder, including opioid use disorder, with more than half voluntarily providing information on services and practices they utilize.
People looking for treatment can take a short anonymous assessment to receive a recommendation on the most appropriate level of care, and then locate treatment facilities that provide treatment based on the most recent science,” Mendell said during a livestreamed demo of the platform.
Recent data released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show that a record number of drug overdose deaths occurred in the U.S. last year, following a dip in 2018. In 2019, nearly 71,000 Americans died from overdosing on fentanyl, synthetic opioid, cocaine and methamphetamine, and 30 states reported overdose death increases.
During the livestream, U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams said the ATLAS initiative contributes to efforts to provide high-quality, accessible treatment services to anyone battling substance use disorder.
“I want to note, as an African American male, that in my experience stigma is particularly apparent in communities of color and in rural communities. … It’s no coincidence that these are the same communities that are the hardest hit in many cases by substance abuse issues," Adams said. "It is also not a coincidence that these same communities have also been hard hit by the COVID-19 pandemic."
He urged governors, legislators and local policymakers to support safe access to high-quality addiction treatment programs.
"We’re facing an unprecedented challenge, fighting a global pandemic while continuing to expand access to life-changing and life-saving treatment to individuals fighting substance use disorders,” Adams said.
Shatterproof worked with RTI International, an independent research institute with expertise in quality measure development, data collection and quality reporting, to build ATLAS using a combination of rigorous analytic approaches and data collection innovations.
The platform currently includes data contributions from more than 1,200 addiction treatment facilities, 8,600 patients, and several commercial insurers. All facilities listed on the platform have completed a survey as to what services they offer and what insurance they accept.
Information received from facilities is vetted through a multiprocess validation and is updated every year.
By the fall, the platform will also offer secure access to critical data to state policymakers, providers, and insurance payers to further drive improvements through increased accountability and transparency,
The metrics will allow payers to assess the performance of providers, giving the ability to align financial incentives with quality over quantity Shatterproof said.