Designing new care models for treatment of addiction

Family First Health


Throughout 2017, I worked alongside the Opioid Addiction Center of Excellence care team at Family First Health (FFH) a Federally Qualified Health Center headquartered in York, Pennsylvania. In late 2016, FFH was awarded a COE grant from the state of Pennsylvania to expand its services in addiction treatment. I was embedded in the program, interviewing staff and patients on a rolling basis and completing deep secondary research in Medication Assisted Treatment, traditional addiction treatment models and Feedback Informed Behavioral Health. I was a constant presence in exam rooms, observing the development of brand new clinical protocols.


One of the major tasks of the project was coalescing the care team around standard measures of patient and programatic success. Working with a colleague, I developed a scoring system that pulled biological, psychological and social factors from patient charts to track progress objectively. At the end of the year, I was responsible for writing a detailed report on his findings and a guidebook for other community health providers looking to expand their addiction services. The report will be delivered early in 2018, providing a roadmap for other health centers interested in creating MAT programs.

The success of the program has been remarkable. Family First Health managed to keep its relapse rate for the year at 14 percent in an industry where 60 to 70 percent is expected. One of the most interesting parts of the research was digging into how the orthodoxy of traditional treatment models has blunted new thinking about addiction. Family First focuses on digging into the lives of its patients, so it was a fascinating environment for qualitative study. I became so interested in the work that I accepted an invitation to join the York Opioid Collaborative and eventually a workgroup mapping access to care.