Finding Hope


#FindingHope: Regence and Boulder Care partner to give accessible substance use disorder treatment

Posted at 2:40 PM, Apr 05, 2021
and last updated 2021-04-06 10:40:44-04

Regence BlueShield of Idaho and Boulder Care have partnered to offer 24/7 virtual care for those facing a substance use disorder.

CDC data shows 13 percent of adults have reported starting or increased use of substances to help cope with the amplified tolls the pandemic has taken.

“Unfortunately, in addition to COVID and the pandemic that is COVID, we are currently encountering what some have dubbed a pandemic within the pandemic”
Regence Behavioral Health Medical Director, Dr. Hossam Mahmoud

The pandemic brought an 18 % increase across the country in overdoses compared to 2019. According to the American Medical Association, in 2020 more than 40 states across the U.S. saw an increase in opioid-related deaths.

"There is a 17.59 percent increase in overdoses reported during the post-stay-at-home order time period, with over 61 percent of ODMAP participating counties reporting an increase in that time," according to Aliese Alter, ODMAP Senior Program Manager Christopher Yeager, ODMAP Analyst.

“Access continues to be a challenge because there aren’t enough providers around the country and while there are enough behavioral health providers, they tend to be located in more urban centers. So, we want to make sure we are expanding access to care to all of our members regardless of where they live,” Mahmoud said.

Treatment can be accessed 24/7 through secure messaging, video calls and phone support.

“Say you wake up at 2 a.m. in the morning and you're having more craving, you’ll be able to set up an appointment to speak with someone the next morning without having to wait until a facility opens up to make a phone call or be put on hold. So, this is just one the aspects of making care easier to access,” Mahmoud said.

The partnership also aims at reducing the stigma surrounding getting help.

“For those that are struggling with accessing care because they feel a sense of shame associated with stigma, being able to access care virtually really helps you bypass that barrier to accessing care,” Mahmoud said.

Boulder Care also provides support for long-term health and wellness, plus social determinants of health, such as stable housing and financial security. Boulder Care's model offers treatment specific to each participant’s needs, based around support provided by a specialized care team:

  • A clinician, who can provide expert medical care and medication management
  • A care advocate, who manages and coordinates care
  • A peer coach, who can share their own lived experience with recovery
“For people with chronic substance use disorder (SUD), the burden of frequent in-person encounters was incredibly challenging prior to the pandemic. Now, hundreds of thousands of people are at increased risk for SUD at the same time as treatment and harm reduction services have become less accessible: resulting in record overdose fatalities,” said Stephanie Strong, CEO of Boulder Care. "We’re thrilled to partner with Regence to expand access to effective, affordable SUD treatment. Together, we will help serve families and communities through these exceedingly difficult circumstances."

Regence members can click here for more information.