Skip to main content
Rural Health Information Hub

Program Considerations for Rural MOUD Programs

Patient Intake

Programs should strive to conduct a patient intake appointment while the patient is in the office for care. Conducting an intake appointment at the same time the patient presents for care will help ensure the patient receives medication quickly and efficiently. The intake appointment can occur in a medical office, emergency department, or other setting, depending on the program model for initiating medication for opioid use disorder (MOUD).

During patient intake, programs should assess patients and:

  • Obtain a medical history
  • Assess current health status
  • Address social and family history
  • Complete lab tests to inform treatment plan


Some MOUD programs include urinalysis as part of patient intake and ongoing treatment. Many rural MOUD programs have a reliable onsite lab facility which allows them to conduct rapid lab testing. This also minimizes barriers to accessing lab testing for patients, such as transportation and scheduling. With onsite lab facilities, MOUD programs can collect samples and process lab tests to provide timely results for treatment.

Patient Education

Programs should educate patients about the different treatment options available to them. This can include education about types of medication, types of treatment such as inpatient and outpatient, and program expectations. For example, some programs may require routine urinalysis testing or have a goal for patients to wean off medication. Patients should be fully informed about the program structure, frequency of appointments, and program goals before they enter into treatment. Education can also help reduce stigma and encourage patients to participate in an MOUD program. Programs can highlight success stories from patients who have graduated to long term recovery and can discuss their experience in the MOUD program.

Program staff can also help minimize medication diversion by educating patients about it, how to properly keep and dispose of their medication, and how to track their medication use.

Length of Treatment and Maintenance

The length of time an individual remains in treatment will vary, depending on their unique needs and situation. The longer a patient continues in an MOUD program, the more likely they are to remain in recovery. Some patients prefer to taper and stop medication after some time in treatment. Others prefer maintenance treatment, which means continuing medication on a long-term basis. Patients should continue MOUD for as long as they want and for as long as it provides a benefit.

Resources to Learn More

Business Plan for Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT)
Presents information for organizations participating in providing medication for opioid use disorder in an office-based setting, addressing organizational readiness, clinical considerations, management approaches, and financial plan.
Organization(s): National Association of Community Health Centers (NACHC)
Date: 8/2017