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Used During Pandemic, Telehealth Lowered U.S. Opioid Overdoses – Consumer Health News

FRIDAY, Sept. 2, 2022 (HealthDay News) — Telehealth flourished through the pandemic, and now a brand new research exhibits it saved lives: The follow meant extra individuals battling opioid habit stayed in therapy longer and thereby lowered their danger of dying from an overdose.

For the research, researchers analyzed information amongst almost 176,000 Medicare beneficiaries from September 2018 to February 2021. The evaluation checked out telehealth companies, drugs for opioid use disorder, and medically handled overdoses amongst sufferers beginning a brand new spherical of care earlier than the pandemic in comparison with these through the pandemic.

“Strategies to increase access to care and medications for opioid use disorder receipt and retention are urgently needed, and the results of this study add to the growing research documenting the benefits of expanding the use of telehealth services for people with opioid use disorder,” mentioned lead research writer Dr. Christopher Jones. He is appearing director of the National Center for Injury Prevention and Control on the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“The findings from this collaborative study also highlight the importance of working across agencies to identify successful approaches to address the escalating overdose crisis,” Jones defined.

What did the research discover? Patients within the pandemic group had been extra prone to obtain telehealth companies (19.6% versus 0.6%) and had been extra prone to obtain drugs for opioid use dysfunction (12.6% versus 10.8%). The findings had been printed on-line Aug. 31 in JAMA Psychiatry.

Even higher than that, utilizing telehealth companies was linked to higher adherence to drugs, in addition to a decrease danger of getting to be handled for an overdose, the investigators discovered.

“The expansion of telehealth services for people with substance use disorders during the pandemic has helped to address barriers to accessing medical care for addiction throughout the country that have long existed,” in line with senior research writer Dr. Wilson Compton, deputy director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA).

“Telehealth is a valuable service and, when coupled with medications for opioid use disorder, can be lifesaving. This study adds to the evidence showing that expanded access to these services could have a longer-term positive impact if continued,” Compton mentioned in an NIDA information launch.

While the research discovered telehealth was typically related to constructive outcomes, it additionally found that Black individuals and people residing within the South had been much less prone to obtain these companies.

The findings spotlight the significance of focusing future efforts on closing the digital divide and lowering inequities in access to care and companies.

“The COVID-19 pandemic was an unexpected shock to the U.S. health care system, which consequently offered a unique opportunity to investigate the impact of health care delivery methods on health outcomes among those who were newly diagnosed with opioid use disorder,” said lead study analyst Dr. Carla Shoff. She is a social science research analyst at the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

“The findings showed that telehealth improved the receipt and retention of medications for opioid use disorder, suggesting that this method of health care delivery may address common barriers to opioid use disorder-related treatment, such as transportation and perceived stigma,” Shoff mentioned.

More info

The American Psychiatric Association has extra on opioid use disorder.

SOURCE: U.S. National Institute on Drug Abuse, information launch, Aug. 31, 2022

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