Beacon Health Options provides needed relief for those caught in twin pandemics of opioid use disorder and COVID-19

Extends grants to non-profits with $125,000 in additional funding

Boston, January 21, 2021 – – COVID-19 has had a tremendous impact on the U.S. economy, our healthcare system and individuals across our nation. Yet, there is another issue that is affecting Massachusetts, and much of the country; and while it is not currently garnering the headlines it used to it is exacerbated by the COVID outbreak – the opioid epidemic.

The crisis of increasing opioid use disorder (OUD) shows no sign of abating in Massachusetts. Preliminary data indicates that during the first nine months of 2020, there were 1,517 confirmed and estimated opioid related overdose deaths – more deaths than the first nine months of 2019. While Massachusetts providers wrote 35.3 opioid prescriptions for every 100 persons, this was among the lowest prescribing rates in the country and less than the average U.S. rate of 51.4 prescriptions. Clearly, more needs to be done to save lives that are being taken prematurely by opioid use disorder.

In late 2019, to help address this ongoing crisis in Massachusetts, Beacon Health Options, a leading behavioral health services company headquartered in Boston, announced the distribution of $128,800 in grants to four community-based behavioral health organizations. The grant funding was intended to help awardees increase their clients’ connectivity to medication-assisted treatment (MAT), an evidence-based approach to treating OUD. Due to the program’s success, Beacon will fund the same four organizations for another year, with an additional $125,000 starting in late 2020.

The results of the first year of this innovative grant program include:

Boston Health Care for the Homeless Program (BHCHP) had a goal for 2020 of implementing mobile health and MAT services with telehealth cognitive behavioral therapy on the program’s mobile addiction clinic. Since April, nearly 80% of the more than 500 patients engaged in BHCHP’s office-based addiction treatment (OBAT) services have received care at least once using telehealth technology, and more than 80% stayed in treatment. Furthermore, between April and August, more than 150 patients started or reinitiated treatment for OUD via telehealth. “Especially as we confront the COVID-19 pandemic, with the risk of overdose and relapse on the rise and the barriers to accessing health care and treatment services that much higher, Beacon Health Options’ support is helping us to address the two converging public health crises of homelessness and opioid use disorders.  It ensures that we are able to provide continuous access to treatment and behavioral health services while reducing exposure to COVID-19,” said Jessie Gaeta, MD, Chief Medical Officer of BHCHP.

Brookline-based Bournewood Health Systems used their grant funds to develop an outpatient MAT program, which included the use of smart phone technology. As a result, Bournewood’s outpatient partial hospitalization program (PHP) has been able to more effectively screen patients with opioid use disorder and offer MAT induction/bridging/referral.  They have begun providing the COR-12 smart phone app as an additional tool to help promote sobriety while engaging in virtual treatment.  Additionally, they have been able to roll out e-prescribing of Buprenorphine/naloxone which provides for more efficient and secure prescribing. “We are extremely grateful for the funding we received from Beacon, which allows us to extend essential substance use disorder services, strengthening the path to recovery for the individuals we serve,” said Marcia Fowler, Chief Executive Officer of Bournewood.

Lowell House had a goal of putting its funds from Beacon toward utilization of Uber Health to mitigate transportation barriers to accessing MAT. Lack of access to transportation is one of the top reasons individuals are unable to access treatment. During the year, 96 Lowell House clients completed 332 trips to detox and MAT programs. None of these individuals would have had the ability to access treatment if it weren’t for these life-saving rides. “So many of our clients benefitted directly from this grant. The resources provided helped them access and remain in treatment, which are major components in helping clients maintain their recovery,” said Frank Richardson, Program Manager at Lowell House’s Men’s Recovery Home.

Lastly, adopting software technology to increase engagement and adherence to MAT treatment plans is the goal North Suffolk Mental Health had for its grant. MATOARS, the Opioid Addiction Recovery Services software, went from being an enhancement to services prior to COVID -19, to an essential tool once the pandemic hit. The software has integrated seamlessly with the organization’s telehealth operations, and increased connectedness and engagement in treatment during a time when so many patients are isolated. “Despite the multiple challenges brought in by the COVID-19 pandemic that delayed implementation of the MATOARS pilot, we were able to endure and persist until we achieved our goal together with Beacon’s unwavering support and guidance. In this second year of the program, we look forward to MATOARS supporting and enabling greater access to our MAT program which will expand its treatment options to include Sublocade,” said Manjola Van Alphen, MD, PhD, MBA, Chief Medical Officer of North Suffolk.

“Our goal in funding these organizations was to help providers drive innovation and find sustainable ways to connect clients to medication-assisted treatment,” said Susan Coakley, Beacon’s Interim President. “We’re very pleased with the results our partners have achieved and look forward to another successful year of helping individuals get the services they need to treat their opioid use disorder.”

About Beacon Health Options

Beacon Health Options is a leading behavioral health services company serving 1 out of 9 people across all 50 states. We work with employers, health plans and government agencies to support mental health and emotional wellbeing, substance use disorder recovery, and employee health programs that improve the health and wellness of people every day. Our multi-modal, insights driven approach allows us to integrate social, behavioral and physical health solutions to drive improved outcomes for everyone we serve. By collaborating with a network of providers in communities around the country, we help individuals live their lives to the fullest potential. For more information, visit www.beaconhealthoptions.com and connect with us on www.facebook.com/beaconhealthoptions, www.twitter.com/beaconhealthopt and www.linkedin.com/company/beacon-health-options.