National Quality Forum Releases Practical Guide to Expand Medication-Assisted Treatment for Opioid Use Disorder 

JUL 15, 2019

CONTACT: Proof Strategies

National Quality Forum Releases Practical Guide to Expand Medication-Assisted Treatment for Opioid Use Disorder
The newest guide from the nation’s leading resource driving measurable health improvements offers direction and practical actions for implementation of medication-assisted treatment to address the nation's opioid epidemic

Washington, DC
- Today, with support from the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association (BCBSA), the National Quality Forum (NQF) released its latest Guide, Enhancing Access to Medication-Assisted Treatment, outlining critical actions healthcare stakeholders can take to expand evidence-based opioid use disorder (OUD) treatment. The valuable Guide outlines practical actions healthcare delivery systems, health plans, practitioners, and community organizations can take to expand essential services and combat the devastating rates of OUD affecting millions of Americans.

As of 2016, more than 2 million Americans suffer from OUD and approximately 20 million currently experience a form of substance use disorder. In 2017 alone, the U.S. experienced over 70 thousand overdose deaths of which 47 thousand were related to opioids. Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT) is an approach that treats OUD with the use of Food and Drug Administration-approved medications in combination with behavioral therapies. Notably, individuals with OUD who receive certain types of MAT are less likely to die from an overdose, have higher treatment retention rates, improved social functioning, and better long-term outcomes. MAT is also often more cost-effective as it has reduced general health care expenditures, emergency care, and other healthcare utilization when compared to other OUD treatments without medication.

MAT is an evidence-based treatment that remains greatly underused despite its demonstrated success and impact. A number of factors including societal stigmas, limited resources, and a lack of clinician experience and training contribute to the slow adoption of MAT by healthcare practitioners and organizations, undermining a powerful tool in the nation’s arsenal to battle the opioid epidemic.

Building on NQF’s work in Opioid Stewardship and Expert Panel review, this Guide continues efforts to address the opioid crisis by enhancing the capacity and efficiency of clinicians to treat more patients with OUD through MAT. Many of the current barriers that prohibit clinicians from implementing MAT are organizational and consequently require executive-level support from healthcare delivery systems and healthcare insurers alike.

“Every day a devastating 130 people die in the U.S. from an opioid overdose,” said Shantanu Agrawal, MD, MPhil, NQF President, and Chief Executive Officer, “Whether a payer, provider, or community organization, we as healthcare leaders must advance every proven strategy for the sake of those affected and our nation. NQF is proud to work alongside leaders like the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association to guide effective change and better outcomes for people.”

“With thousands of Americans struggling with an opioid addiction, it’s critical that proven, evidence-based treatments are available for them when they need it,” said Jennifer Atkins, Vice President, Network Solutions at BCBSA. “With the resources and clear pathways for implementation this Guide provides, we will be able to more effectively address this national epidemic that’s affecting an ever-growing number of Americans in communities across the country.”

The Guide was informed by insights from patients and diverse experts including front-line practitioners, healthcare administrators, addiction treatment center staff, payers, pharmacists, community partners, criminal justice system representatives, employer groups, and federal agencies. Healthcare delivery organizations, practitioners, payers, and community organizations are encouraged to use the implementation strategies and resources within the Guide to design, refine, and strengthen their approach to OUD treatment and care.

For more information, learn about how you can make a difference in the opioid crisis through the actions included in the NQF Medication-Assisted Treatment Guide.


About the National Quality Forum:
The National Quality Forum (NQF) works with members of the healthcare community to drive measurable health improvements together. NQF is a not-for-profit, membership-based organization that gives all healthcare stakeholders a voice in advancing quality measures and improvement strategies that lead to better outcomes and greater value. Learn more at

About Blue Cross Blue Shield Association: 
The Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association is a national federation of 36 independent, community-based and locally operated Blue Cross and Blue Shield companies that collectively provide health care coverage for one in three Americans. BCBSA provides health care insights through The Health of America Report series and the national BCBS Health Index. For more information on BCBSA and its member companies, please visit We also encourage you to connect with us on Facebook, check out our videos on YouTube, follow us on Twitter and check out our blog.

Blue Cross Blue Shield Association Media Contact 
Tess Thompson