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Telehealth via phone and video proves lifeline for opioid-addicted veterans

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For opioid addicts come That said, there are many barriers to getting effective treatments — and COVID-19 could make it even harder.

But as telehealth is widely implemented, a new study shows that even during the pandemic, there are more of people are receiving treatment.

This nationwide study examines buprenorphine for opioid use before and after pandemic diversion care Barriers to care for veterans receiving telehealth visits in early 2020.

It shows that virtual visits with addiction care providers have enabled many patients to continue taking their medication to support them during the pandemic Recovery in the first year.

This also demonstrates the importance of telephone interviews with these patients. Throughout 2020, audio interviews were far more Exceeds video traffic and face-to-face traffic. Even by early 2021, phone visits still account for half of all veterans’ monthly buprenorphine-related visits, with video visits and in-person visits accounting for 32 percent and 17 percent.

Veterans receiving buprenorphine care increased by 14 per month in February 2021 compared to March 2019 %. During the same time period, the total number of veterans receiving any form of addiction treatment dropped by 6 percent.

The study was published in The American Journal of Psychiatry Written by a team at the University of Michigan and the VA Ann Arbor Health Care System. The lead author is Allison Lin, MD, MS, an addiction psychiatrist and researcher at the Michigan Medicine Center for Addiction, the University of Michigan Academic Medical Center, and the Virginia Center for Clinical Management Research.

Notify Telehealth Policy

New phone, video and in-person treatment data helps Provides information on key policy issues currently being debated.

Policymakers are working to replace temporary emergency telehealth policies during the pandemic for patients nationwide, not just is in the VA system. Before the pandemic, audio-only visits were generally not allowed, and video visits to patients at home were generally not reimbursed.

Policy maker Lin said the evidence should be carefully considered before developing a final rule.

Before the pandemic, in Virginia, across the country, only video was allowed. The rapid switch to virtual visits for most patients kept people from dropping out of care, and phone visits played a key role,” she said. “Thanks to Virginia’s National Patient Data System, we were able to provide insight into the pre-pandemic and pandemic era. A first look at phone, video and face-to-face interviews.

She noted that phone visits may be especially important for people with opioid use disorder, who often lack stable housing, High-speed internet or lack of access to a computer.

“Phone access may provide flexibility and make it easier for people over time Participate in care,” she said. “These are also often some of the sickest patients in our care who are at the highest risk of overdose. Getting these patients to receive treatment is a top priority. “

Policies that make it as easy as possible for them to stick to addiction care can have a big impact on their overall outcomes, Lin said. added that he is a member of the UM Institute for Healthcare Policy, Innovation and the UM Center for Injury Prevention.

“It’s interesting that, Some clinics have seen a drop in no-visit rates over the past two years because we can do phone calls or video,” she said. “Throughout the pandemic, we’ve been assuming we have to go back to where we were before COVID-19. But it could be a situation where trying to push people back to in-person care if they don’t want to go, or banning virtual visits, could have unintended consequences. If policies do not allow flexibility and choice, we may lose some people, some of whom will only know about care by phone or video. “

Next step

Lin pointed out that beyond this study, further research is urgently needed Work to understand patient and clinician experiences and preferences, and to further assess the quality of telehealth services.

“The goal is to pass Telemedicine and face-to-face to inform the standard in the field, but it will take time,” she said.

Meanwhile, Efforts must continue to improve access to buprenorphine care, she is.

“Addiction is what we have in all medicine a disease that itself makes it difficult for people to seek treatment,” she noted. “But just because we’re switching to telehealth doesn’t mean we’re removing other barriers to care. It will take more time to truly provide effective care to those in need of OUD.

Lin and her UM colleague, addiction psychologist and researcher Dr Erin Bonar, are in their current study research this issue in.

Instead of waiting for patients to seek addiction care, their team is exploring connecting with patients through telemedicine Ways to contact and offer treatment. This goes beyond past studies that have patients call themselves to receive treatment.

They The results of the pilot study of one of the programs are very promising, and they are now testing the program in two full-scale randomized controlled trials supported by the National Institutes of Health.

“Addiction care and research often focuses on patients who seek treatment and are already at the door. But that’s just a minority of those with substance use disorders,” Lin said. “Now that we’ve seen the power of telehealth to support recovery, we need to reach more people who can benefit from care. We must make it easier to access addiction care and meet people everywhere. “

In addition, Lin has collaborated with others to develop a free toolkit to help providers ensure they Provides high-quality buprenorphine care and treatment for other opioid use disorders. It is available through the Provider Clinical Support System funded by the Federal Administration of Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services. Relaxed federal rules for providers could mean more providers can start doing so.

More information:
Impact of COVID-19 Telehealth Policy Changes on Buprenorphine Treatment for Opioid Use Disorder, American Journal of Psychiatry

(2022). DOI: 10.1176/appi.ajp.21111141

Citation : Phone and video telemedicine proves a lifeline for opioid-addicted veterans (28 Jul 2022), retrieved 30 Aug 2022 From
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