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Increased telehealth use during pandemic linked to reduced overdose risk: study

By September 7, 2022No Comments

FILE – Paul “Rip” Connell, CEO of Private Clinic North, a methadone clinic, shows a 35 mg liquid dose of methadone at the clinic in Rossville, Ga., on March 7, 2017. A deepening opioid epidemic is prompting the U.S. Department of Justice to warn about discrimination against those who are taking medication to wean themselves off their addiction. In guidelines published Tuesday, April 5, 2022, the DOJ said employers, health care providers, jails and others cannot discriminate against people because they are taking prescribed drugs to treat opioid use disorder. (AP Photo/Kevin D. Liles, File)

Source:  The Hill


A new study published on Wednesday found that the expanded use of telehealth services during the coronavirus pandemic was associated with a reduced risk of opioid overdoses.

Researchers from multiple federal agencies, including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the National Institutes of Health, and the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) looked at data from more than 170,000 Medicare beneficiaries.

They analyzed receipts for telehealth services and medications for opioid use disorder (OUD) as well as medically treated overdoses.

The study split the observed beneficiaries into two groups — one that initiated OUD care before the pandemic and another that initiated care after the outbreak began.

When the pandemic began, concerns were raised among the medical community that stressors such as the outbreak and the related stay-at-home orders would raise the risk of overdoses individuals with OUD.

The researchers found that beneficiaries in the COVID-19 pandemic group were likely to receive OUD-related telehealth care and were also more likely to receive corresponding medications.

Those who received OUD-related telehealth care were more likely to retain medical treatments for their conditions and had a lower risk of experiencing a medically treated overdose.

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