PCSS-M Program sees strong growth

After launching two years ago, the Physician Clinical Support System for Methadone (PCSS-M) is producing positive results.

The free nationwide program, through which health care providers needing information and mentoring on methadone treatment for opioid addiction and/or pain can connect with experts in the field, has nearly 500 registered participants, and the number continues to grow.

“We are hoping to enroll a lot more participants, but it does seem like we’re cutting a pretty wide swath in terms of the types of practitioners out there who would use methadone in their practices,” said PCSS-M Medical Director Andrew Saxon, M.D., Professor of Psychiatry at the University of Washington School of Medicine, and Director of the Addiction Treatment Center at the VA Puget Sound Health Care System. “I think we’re hitting the type of people we want to be in contact with.”

The network has 25 mentors and three clinical experts in 22 cities in 17 states.

“The areas that have been addressed are criteria for treatment, monitoring of other drug use, appropriate methadone dosing, and how to transfer people from other opioids to methadone,” Dr. Saxon said. “We have a robust qualitative evaluation so far, so I can say the topics that have come up for which participants have been mentored on are very critically important topics in prescribing methadone either for opioid addiction or chronic pain.”

Of the registered participants, 45 percent are from primary care, 20 percent are from psychiatry, 14 percent are from addiction medicine, and 5 percent are from pain management, with the remaining 16 percent split among anesthesiology, palliative care medicine, emergency medicine, and other specialties.

In terms of practice settings, 45 percent of participants are from private practice, 2 percent are from opioid treatment programs, 17 percent are from additional treatment programs, 13 percent are from academic institutions, 2 percent are from the Veterans Affairs, and 19 percent fall into the “other” category.

PCSS-M mentors provide telephone, email and on-site support. PCSS-M is coordinated by ASAM in conjunction with other leading medical societies.

The network’s website, www.pcssmethadone.org, has had more than 20,000 visits during the last two years.

“The website’s getting a lot of traction,” Dr. Saxon said.

This project is funded by a grant from The Department of Health and Human Services, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), Center for Substance Abuse Treatment (CSAT).