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May 17, 2021

What does a PHP do?

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A professional health program (PHP) has many functions. The overall goal of any PHP is to help healthcare providers with mental health and substance use problems obtain the care they need and, in doing so, to improve public safety. The Georgia PHP has a charter with the Georgia Composite Medical Board to care for physicians, physician’s assistants, respiratory therapists and others who are licensed by the board. Our current agreement is that we will manage licensees who have mental health disorders, substance related disorders or any othr potentially impairing conditions. In some cases, compassionate disease monitoring i in lieu of board attention or action.

Prior to 2012, when a Georgia physician or physician’s assistant developed an addiction disorder or mental illness, the medical board mandated that such individuals report themselves to the board. This reporting requirement was designed to ensure safety to the public. Research has shown that the majority of healthcare providers with substance use disorders do not pose a risk to the public. However, the Georgia Composite Medical Board wisely chose to act in the interest of public safety.

A professional health program changes this process. If individuals who develop substance use disorder or mental illness are identified early in their course, they can be referred for confidential treatment. The professional health program then goes on to monitor the care of the chronic disease of addiction or mental illness.

The Georgia PHP has five specific activities:

  1. To receive information from many sources about individuals who may be having difficulties with depression, substance use disorders and related conditions.
  2. To refer such individuals into a properly structured evaluation and/or treatment if indicated.
  3. To monitor the initial treatment and assist the healthcare professional to build a safe plan for their return to work.
  4. To manage the chronic nature of such illnesses. In addiction disorders, this is done through drug screen monitoring, self-help group attendance, psychotherapy as needed, and promoting general health and wellness practices.
  5. To educate hospitals, third-party payers, malpractice insurance carriers, licensing agencies, specialty boards and all other healthcare professionals across the state about its work in ensuring public safety. We also provide education to the general public.

In a larger sense, the professional health program builds a community of support that ensures the health and wellness of healthcare professionals across our state.

Posted 8 years ago
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