Background: Although treatment of opioid use disorders (OUD) with medications is expanding, the extent to which practitioners are prescribing medications following best practices has received little attention.
Objective: The aim of this study was to determine the extent to which privately insured patients being treated for OUD with buprenorphine were treated in a manner consistent with practice guidelines.
Design: Longitudinal analyses of a large commercial claims dataset from 2012 to 2016.
Participants: We analyzed data for 38,517 patients with an OUD diagnosis continuously enrolled for 3 months prior to and 6 months after an initial buprenorphine or buprenorphine-naloxone prescription fill.
Main measures: We evaluated whether practitioners tested patients for hepatitis B, hepatitis C, HIV, and liver function; how often they received urine drug screens; the frequency of outpatient visits; and the extent to which they filled prescriptions for buprenorphine for at least 6 months.
Key results: Practitioners tested approximately 4.7% of patients for hepatitis B, 6.5% for hepatitis C, and 29.3% for HIV; they tested 8.0% for liver functioning; and gave 33.3% urine drug tests. Approximately 76% of patients had at least one outpatient visit for their OUD. Among those with at least one visit, the mean number of visits was 7.38. After the initial prescription, 47.5% stayed on buprenorphine for at least 6 months.
Conclusions: A large portion of privately insured patients receiving buprenorphine for OUD did not receive care consistent with guidelines.