The Academy of Managed Care Pharmacy (AMCP) has appointed Kimberly Lenz, PharmD, a clinical pharmacy manager in UMass Medical School’s Commonwealth Medicine division, an inaugural member of a medication addiction advisory group that will produce recommendations on treatment best practices.
AMCP asked Dr. Lenz to join the Addiction Treatment Advisory Group (ATAG), citing her leadership and expertise in addiction treatment as well as her ability to think creatively and strategically.
“The group will identify barriers to accessing treatment for addiction, recommend innovative solutions to overcomes these barriers, and establish systems that will lead to the best outcomes,” said Lenz, an assistant professor of Family Medicine and Community Health and a clinical pharmacy manager in Commonwealth Medicine’s Office of Clinical Affairs. “The goal is to remove barriers to treatment and develop support systems that will allow patients to be successful in their recovery.”
Treating addiction, such as that to prescription opioids, includes considering and treating behavioral, physical, and mental health needs as well as coordinating the patients’ care, Lenz said.
The committee will provide its recommendations to help AMCP members address the increasing problem of addiction. Members are often pharmacists, physicians and health care practitioners operating in a managed health care environment. The creation of the national committee comes three months after Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker named the Massachusetts Opioid Drug Formulary Commission to take a hard look at opioids and the potential for them to be abused. The commission will assess and evaluate the most powerful opioids for accessibility, cost, effectiveness and manufacturing properties that make it difficult for the drug to be abused by crushing it or turning it into liquid that can be snorted or injected.
The objectives of ATAG are:
- Evaluate current gaps and barriers to treatment and prioritize which gaps need to be addressed.
- Conduct a review of current practices and systems, and develop recommendations in areas that represent substantial opportunities to improve patient outcomes and reduce risks of relapse.
- Prioritize which areas should be addressed with a two-pronged approach; (1) low-cost, nonlabor intensive policy changes, (2) longer term solutions that potentially “change the game” in addiction treatment.
- Build on the strength of the multi-stakeholder group; develop key recommendations to remove barriers, improve processes, and modify systems to improve addiction treatment outcomes.
- Serve as advocates for their organizations in adopting the changes and recommendations of the ATAG.
- ATAG will begin meeting in October and will work with the AMCP Steering Committee on the initiative to identify barriers and improve access and outcomes for patients seeking treatment for addiction.
As part of her faculty appointment in Family Medicine and Community Health at UMass Medical School, Lenz will give lectures about pain management in the medical school’s Graduate School of Nursing. She also will be giving lectures at MCPHS University.