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Addiction Treatment & Telemedicine: An Update

 

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Addiction Treatment & Telemedicine: An Update

By Dr. Jessica Badichek, PharmD

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) recently published a report summarizing current evidence and practices in telemedicine-based services. This report discusses the substance abuse treatment barriers that persist throughout the country and how telemedicine also known as telehealth may resolve some of these issues.

According to current studies, nearly every geographic region and age group has been impacted by the opioid crisis. CMS states that current evidence reports higher rates of prescription opioid misuse in rural areas versus urban areas. However, only 3 percent of all opioid treatment programs are located in rural areas. Thus, telehealth could be a valuable tool to reach patients in rurally located areas and offer quality evidence-based care.

CMS cites a study that compared a videoconferencing telehealth substance abuse disorder (SUD) treatment program with an in-person program from the same organization. This study found that completion rates were double for the telehealth program versus the traditional in-person program (80% completion for telehealth vs. 41% for traditional, respectively). CMS also cites that additional studies suggest completion rates may be increased using telehealth programs due to convenience and increased confidentiality.

This report concludes that “telehealth seems to provide the intervention most similar to office-based treatment and research shows that telehealth patients, have satisfaction levels and outcomes similar to those of clients receiving in-person therapy.”

CMS’ summary of addiction treatment services via telehealth offers a promising look into what the future may hold in improving addiction treatment access and care.

Reference:
Centers For Medicare & Medicaid Services. Information on Medicare Telehealth. 2018 Nov 15;21-2. https://www.cms.gov/About-CMS/Agency-Information/OMH/Downloads/Information-on-Medicare-Telehealth-Report.pdf

About the Author:
Dr. Jessica Badichek is the Director of Clinical Operations at CompreCareRx. With extensive knowledge of psychiatric therapeutics, substance use disorder therapies and pharmaceutical compounding, she is dedicated to providing optimal clinical care policies that focus on the needs of every individual patient. She has a passion for caring for those suffering from addiction and seeks to provide superior clinical care. She holds a Doctor of Pharmacy degree from Philadelphia College of Pharmacy and is a registered pharmacist.