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SAMHSA News - September/October 2007, Volume 15, Number 5

From the Administrator: Striving for Quality…One Step at a Time

Improving the quality of treatment services for substance abuse and mental health is a constant challenge for communities across the Nation.

At SAMHSA, our mission includes helping prevention and treatment counselors, clinics, and health care providers develop ways to change their service systems to increase positive outcomes for their clients.

Process improvement is an ongoing effort and a collaborative one. One step at a time, using a scientific method, organizations try simple, cost-effective solutions to their biggest challenges. They keep the ones that work and discard the ones that don’t.

SAMHSA, together with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and other leaders in the substance abuse prevention and treatment field, was instrumental in supporting the development of the Network for the Improvement of Addiction Treatment (NIATx). SAMHSA is using the NIATx model to improve client-based treatment services through “rapid-cycle” change. (See Reducing Wait Time Improves Treatment Access, Retention.)

The results are encouraging. When programs follow the NIATx model, significant improvements occur in a short time. For individuals in recovery, improvements to their treatment services can be lifesaving.

One SAMHSA grant program in particular, Strengthening Treatment Access and Retention–State Implementation (STAR-SI), has shown great potential in changing service systems.

STAR-SI state grantees are making simple, rapid, and cost-effective changes to their treatment services. It’s making a difference in outcomes. In addition, as part of NIATx, STAR-SI programs share the benefits of research, innovative ideas, tools for improvement, and case studies.

At the launch of the 18th annual National Alcohol and Drug Addiction Recovery Month in September, SAMHSA announced a new initiative—ACTION (Adopting Changes To Improve Outcomes Now).

SAMHSA and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation are supporting the ACTION Campaign to offer treatment providers the tools and assistance they need to offer clients quick access to services, improve client engagement and retention, and create a seamless transition between levels of care (see A Pledge To Change: The ACTION Campaign).

Through the ACTION Campaign and other efforts, SAMHSA will promote dramatic and measurable changes in service systems to help individuals and families affected by alcohol and drug abuse keep their families together, maintain their livelihoods and jobs, and continue to be productive members of their communities.

Terry L. Cline, Ph.D.
Administrator, SAMHSA

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