The American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM) and CARF International (CARF) announced yesterday, October 15, 2018, the pilot launch of a national certification program for addiction treatment programs that they believe will demonstrate the ability to deliver services consistent with established national guidelines for levels of care.
“The importance of certification to the future of addiction medicine cannot be overstated,” said Kelly J. Clark, MD, MBA, DFAPA, DFASAM, president of ASAM. “ASAM has led the national movement to standardize and deliver evidence-based care for the disease of addiction. Certification is the critical next step to implement consistent standards across the nation, build transparency and consumer confidence around the services patients receive at a particular program, ensure provider fidelity to The ASAM Criteria, and address an urgent national public health need.”
The certification program is intended to provide an independent, comprehensive assessment of an individual treatment program’s fidelity to a specific level of care as outlined in The ASAM Criteria. ASAM and CARF have clearly defined roles in the development and operation of the program to deliver accuracy and ensure independence throughout the certification process.
[Editor’s Note: While Florida law requires treatment programs to become accredited through a nationally-recognized body, a vast majority of programs flock to obtain that accreditation from the Joint Commission, rather than CARF. It is believed within the treatment industry that Joint Commission standards are less stringent than CARF.]
“CARF is pleased to partner with ASAM to deliver a certification program that will benefit patients and their families, health professionals, and insurers, with the necessary clarity to identify discrete levels of care for persons with substance use disorders,” said Brian J. Boon, PhD, president/CEO of CARF.
The ASAM Criteria is the nation’s most widely used and comprehensive set of guidelines for placement, continued stay, and transfer/discharge of patients with addiction and co-occurring conditions.
[Editor’s Note: There are many practitioners who do not believe the ASAM Criteria to be the “gold standard” when it comes to addiction medicine and care.]
“Three decades ago, a group of committed administrators, addiction clinicians, physicians, researchers, and scientists set out to define one national set of criteria for providing outcome-oriented, results-based care for the treatment of addiction – what is known today as The ASAM Criteria,” said Paul H. Earley, MD, DFASAM, ASAM president-elect and one of the authors of The ASAM Criteria. “With [yesterday’s] certification announcement, ASAM advances the specialty of addiction medicine in another significant way by giving addiction treatment programs a way to validate their ability to provide care consistent with ASAM’s nationally recognized best practices.”
ASAM and CARF anticipate piloting the certification in early 2019, adding verification in a second phase, and making the program broadly available later in the year. The ASAM level of care certification will initially offer certification standards based on Level 3 of the ASAM Criteria, specifically levels 3.1, 3.5, and 3.7, covering residential treatment programs. Certifications for other levels of care may be developed at a later date.
ASAM and CARF collaborated on the development of proprietary ratable certification elements and scoring methodology, which include certain pass/fail elements that ASAM has determined are essential to an applicant’s certification.
Importantly, CARF will evaluate programs for certification. To obtain certification, programs will need to demonstrate to CARF that they have the capacity to deliver services at the level of care defined by The ASAM Criteria, as represented by satisfaction of the applicable ratable elements in accordance with the scoring methodology. Programs will submit applications to CARF directly and CARF will independently perform the certification process, including reviewing individual provider applications and conducting site visits.
“CARF possesses the necessary infrastructure, credibility, and expertise to offer certification as a valid proxy of the ASAM levels of care delivered by providers of residential substance use disorder services,” stated Michael Johnson, MA, CAP, managing director for Behavioral Health at CARF.
Each certification will be valid for up to three years, at which time the program may reapply.The American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM) and CARF International (CARF) announced yesterday, October 15, 2018, the pilot launch of a national certification program for addiction treatment programs that they believe will demonstrate the ability to deliver services consistent with established national guidelines for levels of care.
Each certification will be valid for up to three years, at which time the program may reapply.