Project ECHO and primary care buprenorphine treatment for opioid use disorder: Implementation and clinical outcomes

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Background: Our rural health system sought to (1) increase the number of primary care clinicians waivered to prescribe buprenorphine for treatment of opioid use disorder (OUD) and (2) consequently increase the number of our patients receiving this treatment. Methods: We used the Project for Extension for Community Health Outcomes (ECHO) tele-education model as an implementation strategy. We examined the number of clinicians newly waivered, the number of patients treated with buprenorphine, the relationship between clinician engagement with ECHO training and rates of buprenorphine prescribing, and treatment retention at 180days. Results:The number of clinicians with a waiver and number of patients treated increased during and after ECHO training. There was a moderate correlation between the number of ECHO sessions attended by a clinician and number of their buprenorphine prescriptions (r¼0.50, p¼0.01). The 180-day retention rate was 80.7%. Conclusions: Project ECHO was highly effective for increasing access to this evidence-based treatment. The high retention rate in this rural context indicates that most patients are increasing their likelihood of favorable outcomes.