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J Subst Abuse Treat. 2019 Jul;102:47-52. doi: 10.1016/j.jsat.2019.05.006. Epub 2019 May 7.

A scalable, automated warm handoff from the emergency department to community sites offering continued medication for opioid use disorder: Lessons learned from the EMBED trial stakeholders.

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Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, CT, USA.
Eastern Virginia Medical School, Norfolk, VA, USA.
Department of Internal Medicine, Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, CT, USA.
Department of Emergency Medicine, Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, CT, USA.
Department of Emergency Medicine, Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, CT, USA. Electronic address:



In order to streamline the emergency department (ED) referral process in a multi-network automated opioid treatment referral program, we performed a needs assessment of community providers for Medication for Opioid Use Disorder (MOUD) in the EMergency department-initiated BuprenorphinE for opioid use Disorder (EMBED) trial network.


A needs assessment was conducted in two phases: (1) key stakeholder meetings and (2) a survey of community sites offering MOUD. Stakeholder meetings were conducted with five key stakeholder groups: 1) ED clinicians and staff, 2) community sites offering MOUD, 3) the investigative team, 4) health system IT staff, and 5) medical ethics experts. Meetings continued until each stakeholder group stated that their priorities and needs were understood. Major categories of needs were extracted pragmatically based on recurrence across stakeholder groups. Informed by needs expressed by IT and MOUD site stakeholders, nineteen MOUD sites were surveyed to better characterize information needs of community sites offering MOUD when receiving an ED referral.


Three major categories of needs for referral system were identified: 1) The system to be automated, flexible and allow multiple channels of referral, 2) Referral metrics are retrievable in a HIPAA compliant manner, 3) Patients are scheduled into community sites offering MOUD as urgently as possible. Of the MOUD sites surveyed, 68.4% (13/19) responded. Based on the responses, specific patient identifiers were required for most MOUD site referrals, and encrypted emails and EHR were the preferred methods of communication for the handoff. 53.8% (7/13) of the sites were able to accept patients within 3 days with only 1 site requiring >7 days.


These findings can inform IT solutions to address the discordant priorities of the ED (rapid and flexible referral process) and the community sites offering (referrals minimize variability and overbooking). To prevent drop-out in the referral cascade, our findings emphasize the need for increased availability and accessibility to MOUD on demand and protected communication channels between EDs and community providers of MOUD.


Medication assisted treatment; Medication for addiction treatment; Medication for opioid use disorder; Opioid use disorder; Referral

[Available on 2020-07-01]
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