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Nanaimo’s Suboxone* E-Mentor Initiative: Support and education through physician mentorship

The Nanaimo Division of Family Practice has developed an innovative way to support local doctors in caring for patients with addiction issues. Recognizing the importance of providing doctors with opportunities to become educated in Opioid Substitution Therapy (OST), members of the division’s physician advisory team concluded that physicians also need proactive support in order to gain confidence in the process for prescribing Buprenorphine-Naloxone (Suboxone and its generics). The team speculated that this support could be provided remotely, on a case-by-case basis, by addiction specialists acting as physician e-mentors.

The team discussed ways in which e-mentors could support their family physician colleagues who might have questions about Suboxone prescribing. After briefly considering a model in which the specialists would provide their own phone numbers, the division researched alternative options, ultimately landing on a system that allows family doctors to send questions using a central virtual mobile number. Family doctors with questions about prescribing Buprenorphine-Naloxone can text the virtual mobile number, typing “Suboxone” at the beginning of the message, followed by their question and contact info, and a physician e-mentor then responds to their question within four hours.

E-mentors can support physicians at all stages in the process of providing care to patients with addiction issues—doctors may be accepting patients back into their practice once they’ve been stabilized by an addictions physician, or be starting a patient on the Suboxone induction process themselves.

Nanaimo Division Executive Director, Leslie Keenan describes the e-mentor initiative as “an innovative vehicle for connecting GPs with trusted, local mentors in addictions medicine. Although e-mentor is currently specific to substance use, we can see opportunities for its use in other programs.”

The division also supports physicians in caring for patients with opioid addiction issues by providing referral information for local treatment centres, and by enabling physicians interested in taking on stable patients who are ready to receive Suboxone treatment from a family doctor to register with the division for referrals.

To learn more about the Nanaimo Division’s pain management and addiction treatment resources, visit the division’s Suboxone Physician E-Mentor Initiative page.

*The term Suboxone in this context refers to Buprenorphine-Naloxone prescribed as Suboxone, and its generics

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