38508 Empowering Practitioners to Effectively Treat Opioid Use Disorder with a New Mobile App

David Barry, Psy.D.; Commander, United States Public Health Service1, Marla Hendriksson, M.P.M.2, Robert Carroll, PhD(c), RN, MN, ACRN3, Alejandra Brackett, MPH, CHES3 and Kaitlin Abell White, B.S.2, 1U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, Office of Communications, SAMHSA, Rockville, MD, 2Office of Communications, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, Rockville, MD, 3Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, Public Engagement Platform, Rockville, MD


Our country is experiencing a public health crisis of untreated opioid addiction. In 2015, 2.4 million Americans over the age of 12 had an opioid use disorder (OUD). However, even though there are effective treatments available, nearly 80 percent of people with an OUD did not receive treatment. Medication-assisted treatment (MAT) with buprenorphine, both safe and effective, is now widely regarded as an important tool in the fight against OUD. However, to provide MAT, physicians, osteopaths, nurse practitioners, and physician assistants must qualify for a federal waiver under the Drug Addiction Treatment Act of 2000 (DATA 2000).

Program background: 

Unfortunately, there are not enough DATA-waived practitioners to meet the increasing demand. In formative research with health care providers, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) learned that many practitioners view the DATA-waiver process as complicated, time-consuming, and confusing. In addition, most practitioners also encountered difficulties in identifying and accessing resources and information to support the use of MAT with buprenorphine in their practice. Consequently, to simplify completing the DATA-waiver process and to provide training and resources to MAT providers currently in practice, SAMHSA set out to refine and adapt existing products and resources as well as integrate them into an easy-to-use mobile application, resulting in the development of MATx.

Evaluation Methods and Results: 

Since the launch of MATx in October 2016, ongoing data analytics have been collected and analyzed to monitor performance indicators, such as downloads, page visits, repeat users, and waiver application completion rates. To date, MATx has registered 9,432 downloads. In addition, tracking data indicates that the app has been used in more than 15,000 sessions. It has also been noted that more than 50 percent of these sessions have been with repeat users.   


To meet the increasing demand for MAT for OUD, the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) seeks to qualify more than 30,000 new providers of MAT with buprenorphine. While download numbers to date have not yet reached that threshold, they are a significant barometer of its popularity and utilization by a specialized group of health care providers committed to MAT for OUD. In addition, the high number of repeat users may be evidence that in the few months since its release, MATx has become a “go-to” mobile app for many clinicians seeking information on MAT and support for becoming DATA-waived.

Implications for research and/or practice: 

The MATx mobile app, easily accessed through the SAMHSA Store at http://store.samhsa.gov/apps/mat/, is unique in its use of digital best practices to create a “one-stop shop” for an expansive array of SAMHSA clinical resources identified by provider users to support MAT for OUD. For clinicians seeking rapid solutions to complex problems, MATx provides an innovative solution for integrating MAT resources, treatment locators, a curated search, and a pathway for applying for the DATA-waiver.