Saving Lives, Improving Health

In June 2018, RIZE awarded grants to community-based organizations as part of our inaugural program Saving Lives, Improving Health: Redesigning Opioid Use Disorder Care to:

  • Boston Health Care for the Homeless Program
  • Brockton Neighborhood Health Center
  • Lynn Community Health Center

The Saving Lives grant program was created with the goal of establishing or expanding innovative systems of low-threshold, on-demand treatment to prevent death, supporting long-term treatment, and improving the health and quality of life for people experiencing opioid-use disorder. The grantees were chosen for their collaborative treatment models that facilitate coordination among medical, behavioral, and community organizations.

The grantees focused on five key areas:

  • Treating populations at greatest risk of overdose and death
  • Serving as the patients’ medical home while partnering with other community organizations to coordinate care and access to treatment
  • Treating co-occurring medical and psychiatric disorders
  • Delivering immediate access to medications for addiction treatment
  • Involving those with lived experience in planning, implementation, and feedback

As part of our commitment to embed learning and evaluation into our grant programs, an additional grant to the Institute for Community Health was awarded to measure the outcomes and effectiveness of the programs.

In June 2020, RIZE extended the Saving Lives program for an additional year. This funding provided stability for the grantees as they adjusted their program and service delivery during the COVID-19 pandemic. Similarly, the evaluation was also extended to continue to measure outcomes, effectiveness, and inform program improvements.

Program Results Summary

The Saving Lives, Improving Health program provided key insights into how the participating community health organizations were able to expand their outreach and strengthen their programs to better treat those experiencing addiction with the help of this three-year grant. It also proved to be an important source of funds during the pandemic as the health centers were forced to make unplanned operational modifications in order to meet the needs of their patients.

Below are some key insights from the program outcome report:

  • Despite challenging socioeconomic factors, 49% of patients – 59% of whom experienced unstable housing and 39% who were diagnosed with a severe mental illness (SMI) — remained on medication one year later.
  • 10% participation growth (including during COVID lockdown) over the baseline number
  • Grantees increased medication for opioid use disorder (MOUD) initiation rates to 47% during COVID, as well as the behavioral health engagement rate for patients with SMI to 61%.
  • MOUD retention rates decreased over time, especially for Black patients, suggesting that retention rates should be a focus of future work, with an emphasis on racial equity.