Morrison County Accountable Community for Health
- Need: To combat prescription drug misuse in rural Morrison County, Minnesota.
- Intervention: The Morrison County ACH brings together primary care, social services, law enforcement, and other partners to make sure that patients receive treatment and support.
- Results: One pharmacy saw a 20% reduction in the number of prescribed opioids, and the ACH was able to taper 127 patients off opioids completely.
In 2011 and 2012, CHI St. Gabriel's Health staff in rural Little Falls, Minnesota, began noticing an increase in opioid use among patients – both for medical needs and misuse. In addition, prescription drugs were the #1 reason for emergency department admissions.
To combat prescription drug misuse, Morrison County formed an Accountable Community for Health (ACH), part of a statewide effort to bring together partners like local public health boards, social services, law enforcement, and primary care through formal business agreements and service integration.
The Morrison County ACH is a partnership of:
- CHI St. Gabriel's Health
- Public Health – Morrison County
- Social Services – Morrison County
- South Country Health Alliance
The project received funding from a State Innovation Model Grant. For more information, please watch this Minnesota Department of Human Services video:
Patients who have been prescribed opioids meet with a social worker and the Controlled Substance Care Team, who educate the patients on available community resources such as mental health services and job assistance.
While the Controlled Substance Care Team works with individuals, the Prescription Drug Abuse Task Force meets monthly to talk about issues within the community. This taskforce has representatives from the Care Team, the hospital, pharmacies, the mental health center, law enforcement, Morrison County departments, and other community members.
In addition, the Morrison County ACH began a buprenorphine and naloxone program to treat patients with an opioid use disorder.
Through the partnership with South Country Health Alliance, program coordinators were able to access data about insurance claims and prescription drug use. One pharmacy saw a 20% decrease in the number of opioids prescribed. In 2016 alone, the ACH was able to taper 127 patients off opioids completely.
One barrier was getting physicians on board with the program. Initially, physicians were concerned about how this particular program would affect their patients. Program coordinators found two "champion" physicians who could talk to the other doctors about the program's benefits. Another barrier is staffing, especially staff turnover.
The biggest barrier will be obtaining additional funding to sustain the ACH, since much of the work is not currently reimbursable by third-party payers.
Bring together existing agencies in the community, and find leaders in the medical community who will champion your cause. You will also need some type of funding support to start, since it can be a struggle to get third-party reimbursement for this program.
Program coordinators are currently creating a manual for other rural communities to replicate this program.
Brad Vold, Director of Social Services and Interim Director of Public Health
Criminal justice system
Integrated service delivery
Networking and collaboration
Prescription drug abuse
August 2, 2017
Please contact the models and innovations contact directly for the most complete and current information about this program. Summaries of models and innovations are provided by RHIhub for your convenience. The programs described are not endorsed by RHIhub or by the Federal Office of Rural Health Policy. Each rural community should consider whether a particular project or approach is a good match for their community’s needs and capacity. While it is sometimes possible to adapt program components to match your resources, keep in mind that changes to the program design may impact results.