Great Lakes ATTC: Process Improvement Focus Helps Organizations Implement Evidence-Based Practices

Todd Molfenter, Ph.D.
Director, Great Lakes ATTC

The mission of the ATTC Network includes “accelerating the adoption and implementation of evidence-based and promising addiction treatment and recovery-oriented practices and services.”

At the Great Lakes ATTC, we’re applying our background in implementation science and process improvement to help accelerate the adoption and implementation of EPBs in our region and beyond.

Implementing EPBs can be challenging for organizations of any size. Emerging research from implementation science tells us that successful EPB implementation needs:
  1. more than training alone,
  2. coaching and feedback; and
  3. standardized improvement model.
See related article, Water into Sand: OUD Pharmacotherapy and Implementation Science: Why Training on Evidence-Based Practices is Never Enough

The NIATx Model

A fundamental tool in the Great Lakes ATTC’s effort to accelerate EPB implementation is the NIATx model, developed in 2003 as a demonstration project supported by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and SAMHSA. A seminal article written by McCarty et al. in 2007 described the impact of the NIATx model on access and retention in addiction treatment settings. Since then, more than 50 peer-reviewed articles have documented the use of the NIATx model in adopting evidence-based practices in addiction treatment, mental health, HIV treatment, child welfare, criminal justice, and other human services settings.

The NIATx Change Leader Academy

To teach the NIATx model, we offer the NIATx Change Leader Academy (CLA): a one-day, face-to-face workshop followed by three months of peer networking and support from a NIATx coach. The CLA teaches organizations how to use the NIATx model of process improvement to lead change projects that focus on improving systems or implementing EBPs.

Based on customer feedback (and applying NIATx Principle #1: Understand and Involve the Customer), we continue to refine this training session to make it focused, team-based, and interactive. Participants leave the skill-building workshop with tools they can use to start a change project as soon as they get back to the office.

Available in our region and beyond

During our first year as the Great Lakes ATTC, we conducted NIATx CLAs in each state in our region. These events were a great way to build relationships with our stakeholders and to introduce more behavioral health providers to the NIATx model.

Organizations in our region are using the NIATx approach for a wide range of change projects, including implementation of medication-assisted treatment for opioid use disorder and Screening, Brief Intervention, and Referral to Treatment. NIATx tools are helping to build Recovery-Oriented Systems of Care in Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, and soon, we hope, in other states in our region. Organizations can use the NIATx approach to implement other EPBs, such as those listed in SAMHSA’s Evidence-Based Practices Resource Center.

Photo: NIATx Change Leader Academy, MARRCH, April 3, 2019

The NIATx model also provides a framework for making changes to administrative processes. In Minnesota, a recent NIATx CLA marked the launch of a strategic initiative by the Minnesota Associations of Resources for Recovery and Chemical Health (MARRCH): a statewide Change Leader Learning Community that will help Minnesota providers adapt to policy changes coming to the state.

Read the related news story: NIATx Change Leader Academy Launches Minnesota Learning Collaborative

We offer the NIATx CLA regularly in the states throughout our region; check the Great Lakes ATTC calendar for info on upcoming offerings. And if you are interested in hosting a NIATx CLA in our region, give us a call!

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