Where We Were
In 2016, the University at Buffalo Department Emergency Medicine (UBEM) in combination with UB|MD Emergency Medicine set out to decrease opioid prescribing in their emergency departments in response to the rising concerns regarding opioid use disorder (OUD). Guidelines were established for patients and prescribers for appropriate opioid prescribing. To ensure consistency across the region, these documents were endorsed by every major health system and urgent care organization in Western New York. From 2015 to 2018, the emergency departments of the major academic health centers in Buffalo saw a >50% decline in opioid prescribing. However, there was more to be done.
New York MATTERS Founder and Medical Director, Dr. Joshua Lynch, saw the inadequacies in how our system treated patients with OUD. Upon leaving the emergency department, patients were given a list of outpatient facilities to call themselves, oftentimes listing old numbers and leading patients to another dead end when seeking care. When providers took the time to call an outpatient clinic to schedule an appointment, it took time away from an already over-packed emergency department. That is when Dr. Lynch, in partnership with UBMD Emergency Medicine, developed the MATTERS (Medication for Addiction Treatment and Electronic Referrals) concept.
The MATTERS concept began as Buffalo MATTERS with an aggressive effort to train emergency physicians and advanced practice providers (APPs) in responsible opioid prescribing, medication assisted treatment (buprenorphine primarily), and rapid referrals. The team onboarded one major hospital in Western New York and three outpatient clinics in a pilot to show proof of concept. Through demonstrated success, applicability to various other health settings, and outreach efforts, the network grew. This concept quickly grew and has since expanded into New York MATTERS, and operates through an electronic referral platform developed by the New York State Department of Health that is securely housed on the NYSDOH Health Commerce System.
New York MATTERS referrals are completed electronically, usually in under than 5 minutes, and come with added harm-reduction and health-promoting resources offered to support patients and providers in keeping OUD patients in treatment.
Where We Are
Since September 2020, New York MATTERS has begun to expand to various regions of New York State. Hospitals, clinics, law enforcement agencies, and correctional facilities alike have adopted the MATTERS model to facilitate care for patients with opioid use disorder. More than 40 hospitals, 100 outpatient clinics, and 1,000 pharmacies participate in the program across the state.
The New York MATTERS team has been working to enhance its medication voucher program and recently developed a transportation voucher program to decrease barriers to care. Over the past year, New York MATTERS partnered with CVS Pharmacy and now medication vouchers can be redeemed at any CVS location in New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Connecticut. Medication vouchers are automatically issued to any patient without insurance and cover up to 14 days of buprenorphine. Uber Health also recently became a partner in our program and all patients are now offered a roundtrip Uber ride to their first clinic appointment. All patients who indicate they need transportation assistance are provided a voucher.
Where We Are Going
Nine Regional Care Coordinators (RCCS) will soon join the New York MATTERS team. The RCCs will be deployed across the state to foster expansion efforts in their respective regions. RCCs will onboard new hospitals, outpatient clinics, pharmacies, law enforcement/EMS agencies, and correctional facilities onto the platform.
Over the past year, the New York MATTERS team has focused on expanding the program to non-traditional environments. Various county jails including Dutchess County and Niagara County have been onboarded to the platform and are able to refer recently-released inmates to outpatient treatment organizations. The program will also soon be utilized by New York State Opioid Courts. Oneida County and Dutchess County will be the first two courts to pilot this process.
The New York MATTERS team recognizes the importance of giving patients the ability to make an informed choice on where to seek care. Our electronic referral platform will soon list which clinics offer other substance use disorder care (stimulants, alcohol, benzodiazepines, and methamphetamine), HIV treatment, hepatitis C treatment, mental health treatment, COVID testing, and COVID vaccinations.
The New York MATTERS team continues to focus on mitigating barriers to care and implementing innovation approaches to improve access to care for patients with substance use disorders.
Contact the team at firstname.lastname@example.org for collaboration and partnerships.