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Network Matters
News and Information for the
Harvard Pilgrim Health Care Network

January 2020

Consultation Service for Treatment of Addiction and Pain


In light of Massachusetts’ ongoing opioid epidemic, Harvard Pilgrim encourages providers to utilize the Massachusetts Consultation Service for Treatment of Addiction and Pain (MCSTAP), a free service whose mission is to support primary care providers in screening for, diagnosing, treating, and managing the care of all patients with chronic pain, substance use disorders, or both.

MCSTAP is available to all Massachusetts providers within a primary care practice, including physicians, nurse practitioners, physician assistants, registered nurses, behavioral health clinicians, and care managers. You can reach MCSTAP at 1-833-PAIN-SUD (1-833-724-6783) between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. Monday through Friday for real-time, telephonic consultation on safe prescribing and managing care for patients with chronic pain or substance use disorders.

A resource and referral specialist will field your call and gather basic information about your practice and your patient, then share this information with a MCSTAP physician consultant, who will return your call within 30 minutes and assist with any questions you may have regarding the treatment of the patient. Some examples of topics MCSTAP’s experts can consult on include:

  • Prescribing buprenorphine or naltrexone
  • Preparing for medication changes or titrating medications
  • The overall management plan for complex and challenging cases
  • Review of potential changes to a treatment plan prior to a patient visit
  • Medication management for patients on opioids prior to and after surgery
  • Questions related to caring for pregnant women with substance use disorders

In addition to the valuable real-time support offered by MCSTAP, Harvard Pilgrim and our behavioral health partner, Optum/UBH, also offer some helpful resources for patients with substance use disorders and the physicians who treat them. (These resources are available to all providers, in all states.) We encourage providers with patients who struggle with drugs or alcohol to direct them to Optum’s Substance Use Treatment Helpline at 855-780-5955. Also available is an online help and support page at https://liveandworkwell.com/recovery, where your patients can find the answers to many frequently asked questions, as well as links to numerous topics related to substance use.

Optum can also help with referrals for outpatient behavioral health services by locating in-network services — including chemical dependency services and providers of specialized treatments — as well as practitioners to provide initial screening evaluations and, if needed, subsequent psychological or neuropsychological testing referrals.

To refer a patient for behavioral health services, call Optum at 888-777-4742. To speak with an Optum clinician to discuss treatment options for adult or pediatric patients, call the Optum Physicians Consultation service at 800-292-2922.

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