Updated Buprenorphine Course Combines Online, Live Case-Based Learning

ASAM is updating the eight-hour course physicians must complete to obtain a waiver to prescribe buprenorphine. The new course, which will be rolled out in July, will be a flipped classroom format blending four hours of online self-study and four hours of live interactive case-based presentations.

BMC Internal Medicine 2013

Daniel P. Alford, MD, MPH

“We are dividing the content in a way that makes sense for adult learners. The online part will be the essential knowledge content—the neurobiology of opioid use disorders, the Drug Addiction Treatment Act of 2000, opioid pharmacology and the efficacy and safety of pharmacotherapy – all things people can study on their own,” said Daniel P. Alford, MD, MPH. “We will focus the live session on clinical and office management procedures and case-based discussions. Much of the content presented during the four hours of live presentations will focus on the clinical application of the content covered in the online program.”

Besides the change in format, the course content also is being updated, said Dr. Alford who is the Chair of the ASAM Buprenorphine Course for Office-Based Treatment of Opioid Use Disorders Program Planning Committee and Associate Professor of Medicine at Boston University School of Medicine.

“We are taking a fresh look at the previous training content and updating it with the most recent evidence,” he said. “There has been a lot of clinical research published in the past few years. We are moving away from the need to talk about basic science research and expert recommendations and moving toward evidence-based clinical practice.”

The course’s revised content will be broke into four modules:

  1. Science and the Drug Addiction Treatment Act of 2000, covering topics such as the neurobiology of addiction; epidemiology of opioid use disorders; opioid pharmacology; and the efficacy and safety of pharmacotherapy medications beyond bupreneorphine and their efficacy and safety
  2. Implementation Science of office-based opioid treatment; how to assess patients and manage medications; the role of nonpharmacological treatment; how to monitor and educate patients for safety and benefit; and office management issues, such as agreements, billing and collaborative care.
  3. Special Populations, which will examine specific groups, such as women of child-bearing age; women who are pregnant or breast feeding;; adolescents and young adults; patients with acute and chronic pain; perioperative management issues; patients with medical and psychiatric comorbidities; and health professionals with opioid use disorders.
  4. Clinical Cases, the live section of the course, will review cases that address patient assessment; managing polysubstance use; induction and maintenance procedures; dealing with aberrant medication-taking behavior; acute pain; perioperative management; and pregnancy and breastfeeding.

The online portion will include slides with audio narration provided by faculty members, Dr. Alford said.

“For the online content, we assigned topics to faculty members with expertise in specific aspects of this field,” he said. “The live part of the course will be very interactive, with a summary and review to remind people of the major points from the online modules before we move to the case discussions.”