National Drug Treatment Quality Improvement Program Adds Colorado Site

Submitted by: 02/01/2005

Paths to Recovery, a national program of The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) recently announced that 13 community-based addiction treatment organizations have received funding to participate in a unique "learning collaborative" to improve access to and retention in addiction treatment. The collaborative - the Network for the Improvement of Addiction Treatment (NIATx) - is a partnership between Paths to Recovery, the Center for Substance Abuse Treatment's Strengthening Treatment Access and Retention (STAR) program, and a number of independent addiction treatment organizations.

Signal Behavioral Health Network, a Colorado not-for-profit company managing public funds for addiction treatment in 35 Colorado counties, was the only Colorado organization selected to participate in NIATx. Signal facilitates and arranges a network of 18 substance abuse treatment providers and is responsible for payment, contracting, data management and quality improvement throughout this network of providers. Signal's partner in NIATx is Island Grove Regional Treatment Center, the largest provider of addiction treatment in northeastern Colorado. Island Grove has been providing comprehensive substance abuse services to the 12 northeast counties of Colorado for 30 years.

Through their participation in NIATx, Signal and Island Grove will learn how to make improvements in their day-to-day practices to serve their clients more efficiently and appropriately based on their individual needs.

"Colorado treatment providers have experienced significant budget cuts over the past several years," according to Bill Wendt, Signal CEO. "It is unlikely that we will see much of an increase in direct service dollars but we can assist providers by improving business practices that reduce client no-shows and increase client access, retention and continuation in treatment."

Using customer-focused business practices, the NIATx collaborative has succeeded in reducing wait times and no-show rates and increasing admissions and continuation in treatment. By using peer networking and education to promote a customer-focused culture in treatment programs, NIATx collaborative organizations have achieved dramatic results. Among participating organizations, the average time to assessment was cut 72 percent, time to treatment was cut in half, and patient retention (through four sessions) increased 123 percent.

Signal and Island Grove are excited about working together to improve the quality of treatment services and plan to transfer positive results to the other 17 providers in Signal's network, as well as throughout other venues.

For more information about the NIATx project, please visit For information regarding Signal and Island Grove, contact Bill Wendt at Signal Behavioral Health Network, Inc. or Jerrod McCoy at Island Grove.

NIATx is a national initiative of The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Center for Substance Abuse Treatment (CSAT) designed to strengthen the addiction treatment field's ability to significantly and continuously improve the care processes that facilitate patient access to and retention in treatment programs.

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, based in Princeton, N.J., is the nation's largest philanthropy devoted exclusively to health and health care. It concentrates its grantmaking in four goal areas: to assure that all Americans have access to quality health care at reasonable cost; to improve the quality of care and support for people with chronic health conditions; to promote healthy communities and lifestyles; and to reduce the personal, social and economic harm caused by substance abuse - tobacco, alcohol and illicit drugs.

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