Altarum and Kaiser Permanente Washington Health Research Institute to Help Michigan Primary Care Practices Expand Treatment of Unhealthy Alcohol Use

November 13, 2019

Ann Arbor, MI — Altarum and Kaiser Permanente Washington Health Research Institute (KPWHRI) have been awarded a grant from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) to help primary care practices in Michigan increase screening and treatment for unhealthy alcohol use.

The grant is part of AHRQ’s Patient-Centered Outcomes Research initiative, which aims to improve patient outcomes through broader adoption of evidence-based interventions in clinical practice.

Nearly a third of adults in the US drink alcohol at levels above recommended limits. Further, many patients with alcohol use disorder do not receive substance use disorder treatment; recent research by Altarum shows that 85 percent of Michigan residents with an alcohol use disorder have not received treatment.

In an effort to improve this statistic, Altarum will work with approximately 125 small and medium primary care practices in Michigan, providing training, tools, and technical assistance to help them integrate screening and preventive counseling for unhealthy alcohol use, and deliver appropriate treatment, including medications for alcohol use disorders.

Despite widespread consolidation in the health sector, 58 percent of primary care in the US is still provided by small or medium practices. And while primary care physicians have the capability to deliver effective prevention for unhealthy alcohol use and treatment for alcohol use disorders, very few provide such care consistently.

This project combines Altarum’s expert knowledge and innovative approach to successfully engaging small primary care practices in quality improvement with Kaiser Permanente Washington Health Research Institute’s (KPWHRI) state-of-the-art strategies for implementing evidence-based prevention and treatment of unhealthy alcohol use—specifically alcohol screening and brief interventions and medication treatment for alcohol use disorders. Together, Altarum and KPWHRI will help providers adopt these strategies through accredited continuing medical education and maintenance of certification programs, clinical work-flows and EHR decision support tools, practice facilitators who provide direct technical assistance, and data extraction to support performance feedback.

AHRQ will use the findings to evaluate the effectiveness of the implementation strategies to improve management of unhealthy alcohol use in primary care settings.

Altarum is a nonprofit organization that works with federal and state agencies and foundations to design and implement solutions to improve the health of individuals with fewer financial resources and populations disenfranchised by the health care system. We achieve measurable results by combining our expertise in public health and health care delivery with technology, workforce training and continuing education, applied research, and technical assistance. Our innovative solutions lead to better health for beneficiaries and better value for payers.