Last month, LegitScript launched a new certification program for drug and alcohol addiction treatment providers aimed at reducing the influence of opportunistic providers that have been cashing in on patients’ recovery efforts and insurance billing opportunities. The program is also an opportunity for legitimate providers that are certified and monitored by LegitScript to advertise on Google AdWords, a platform that otherwise restricts advertising for addiction services.
When we launched the program, we were uncertain about what kind of response we would receive; we were pleased to discover that demand for this kind of certification is high. Not only are legitimate addiction treatment providers eager to take advantage of advertising opportunities on Google, but many have expressed support for a certification program that is seeking to weed out bad actors in their industry.
The addiction treatment industry is complex, and many applicants and members of the media have asked good questions that are helping to shape and refine our process. We want to share the answers to some of these frequently asked questions with our readers.
When will applicants beyond the initial pool be certified?
During May and June, we are certifying our initial pool of up to 30 applicants. Because this is a new program, we’re going intentionally slow and careful to make sure we’re properly certifying legitimate entities and accurately blocking the noncompliant ones. We’ll begin certifying applicants beyond the initial pool starting in July, and by that time we hope to ramp up the speed. It’s important to note that Google AdWords will not begin accepting ads for addiction treatment services until July.
Exactly how long does the certification process take?
Because we’re only just beginning the process with our initial pool of applicants, it’s difficult to say how long typical certification will take. It will depend, too, on the complexity of the providers being certified and their responsiveness to our questions throughout the process. Our priority is to get it right. Applications for our healthcare certification programs typically take weeks to process, but it’s too early yet to know if the timeline for addiction treatment will be comparable. Certainly, our goal is to make it as quick and painless as possible.
Will the certification process change and evolve?
If our other certification programs are any indication, we’ll almost certainly evolve and improve our program with time. We’re always open to ways we can streamline our processes, improve the quality of our assessments, and adapt our standards to better reflect the changing landscape of addiction treatment. It’s for this reason we’re forming an advisory committee to LegitScript to ensure the continuous improvement and accountability of this program. The committee will include the Partnership for Drug-Free Kids, the National Association of Addiction Treatment Providers (NAATP), and the Center on Addiction (formerly CASA), among others yet to be announced.
Why can’t international providers get certified? Will this ever be an option?
For the same reason we’re starting with a small initial pool of applicants, we’re initially offering certification only to providers in the US. We want to be intentionally methodical in our process to make sure we get it right. After we’re confident in the process of our US program, we will be evaluating the extent to which we want to expand globally. This is the model we used with our internet pharmacy and telemedicine certification programs. Furthermore, Google is not accepting ads for addiction services outside the US.
Under what conditions are providers required to have an on-site medical provider to run Google ads?
This is driven partly by state laws and regulations, and partly by the nature of the business. In general, we’re typically looking for an applicant that is providing addiction treatment services to have either an on-site medical provider or, at the very least, someone who functionally is on-site (e.g., at a nearby facility and regularly in attendance). We do see this as a best practice in most cases, but there are some applicants (e.g., mutual support groups or crisis hotlines) for which this is usually inapplicable.
Will residential programs ever be eligible for LegitScript certification?
We view a recovery residence as a facility that is not providing clinical services or addiction treatment, but that instead provides a cooperative living environment and is typically located in a private residence or similar setting and is not part of a larger treatment program offered by an addiction treatment provider. Although there is a fair amount of abuse in this area, at present we are not accepting applications for recovery residents. However, we do understand that there are legitimate recovery residences. In the future, we may grow the certification program to encompass recovery residences, but we don’t have a timeline set for that.
What is the pricing structure for addiction treatment providers with multiple facilities?
In general, there is separate pricing for each facility: certification is intended to be on a facility-by-facility basis, even if those facilities are under common ownership. However, we understand that some addiction treatment providers operate many related facilities, and in some cases we may be able to offer volume discounts for single corporate or non-profit applicants with multiple facilities. These are highly customized options and depend on the degree to which the facilities (and their websites) have similar or identical information for review. Please contact us to see if special pricing would apply to you.
And, don’t forget: fee waivers may be available for non-profits.
Do you have a question about our addiction treatment certification or some other LegitScript program? Don’t hesitate to contact us.