Centerstone Research Institute (CRI) is in the initial phases of the planning process with American Addiction Centers (AAC) and its advisory board to design a new portfolio of clinical research studies, according to Tom Doub, CEO of CRI.
“I expect the work to document effectiveness and outcomes of the services AAC provides around addiction,” Doub says.
He believes the real concern in the addiction space in past years has been the impact of length of stay, especially as patient health insurance plans now lean toward outpatient care and shorter courses of treatment.
“The question exists if that ultimately is a financially smart decision,” he says. “In the field of behavioral health and addiction, there are still significant parity issues in how services are paid for,” Doub says. “This kind of work is important in telling the story to insurers about the effectiveness that the industry provides.”
He says other AAC studies could include the role of nutrition on treatment and recovery. Emerging evidence suggests that nutritional wellness is significantly related to overall behavioral health status, a patient’s mood and the outlook on recovery from substance-use disorders. Emerging studies seem to link mind and body more that was thought in the past, and AAC could drive additional research forward.
“It’s unusual for an addiction provider or behavioral healthcare organizations to engage in that kind of work unless there’s a grant for it,” he says.
Now it’s AAC’s new capital that will fund the research.
Data sources for the CRI studies will include electronic health records and follow up interviews with clients. Because AAC has an existing EHR system with historical data, Centerstone will also aggregate and parse past data as well. Doub says AAC has a solid process in place to collect the types of input needed to conduct the research.
But what will happen after AAC’s goldmine of data is distilled into actionable information? Doub expects that AAC will make the findings public in a journal or in some other way to advance the collective effectiveness and quality of addiction treatment industrywide. He believes the resulting intelligence will be generalizable across all types of programs, even those that are distinctly different than AAC—traditionally a for-profit provider that accepts self-pay and commercial insurance.
“We hope the results will be used by payers to make smarter decisions on what to pay for,” he says.
Increasingly, payers are under pressure to produce value for their enrollees and to be responsible stewards of the healthcare dollar. It’s true for commercial populations as well as government program beneficiaries.
“We are seeing more and more interest in outcomes measurement,” Doub says. “This is ultimately a consequence of a national move to value-based and accountable care models and the need for providers to demonstrate their outcomes.”