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A Penn Medicine study found that financial incentive would encourage 89% of physicians to get proper training to administer buprenorphine. Credit: Kylie Cooper

Merely 6% of eligible physicians in three emergency departments at the Perelman School of Medicine currently have the proper training to supply a life-saving medication that prevents patients from fatal opioid overdose. A Penn Medicine study found that by providing a financial incentive to physicians, however, 89% of physicians would become eligible to provide the medication. 

The study was published earlier this month by seven Penn researchers in the field of Emergency Medicine at the Medical School, Penn Medicine News reported. The researchers found that if reimbursement for training and a $750 incentive were offered to the providers, nearly nine out of every ten physicians were fully trained within six weeks.

The life-saving medication, buprenorphine, works to calm the brain's need for opioids and limit the toxic effects of the drugs, which prevents fatal overdosing, according to Penn Medicine News.

After receiving the drug certificate training, the study found that 65% of physicians reported administering or prescribing buprenorphine within five months. 

“This study shows how enthusiastically emergency physicians embraced the opportunity to obtain this certification, which speaks to the shifting national conversation surrounding opioid use disorder and the importance of meeting patients where they are,” Sean Foster, the director of Quality Improvement in Emergency Medicine at Penn Presbyterian Medical Center, told Penn Medicine News.

According to the study, the provided financial reimbursement and incentive was the facilitating factor in pushing physicians to devote an entire day to training for the certification. A post-study survey revealed two-thirds of respondents said they would have gotten certified to provide the medication even if the incentive was $500 or less. 

The authors of the study told Penn Medicine News they hope to expand the treatment's accessibility for patients by exploring the effectiveness of even shorter training courses for physicians.

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