Survey: Majority of physicians favor utilizing telehealth for delivering opioid use dysfunction therapy

A survey of greater than 1,000 registered physicians who used telehealth providers to deal with sufferers with opioid-use dysfunction throughout COVID-19 discovered that an amazing majority favor making telehealth a everlasting a part of their apply.

The findings of the Yale College of Public Well being (YSPH) research present new assist for the usage of telehealth know-how in treating opioid-use dysfunction. Policymakers at present are debating whether or not present rules permitting for telehealth through the COVID pandemic ought to be prolonged briefly because the pandemic wears on -; or made a everlasting a part of therapy apply choices.

Current publicity to telehealth because of the COVID-19 pandemic has promoted the angle among the many physicians surveyed that it’s a viable and efficient therapy choice for sufferers. Findings like these might have main implications for the way forward for telehealth regulation. Continued flexibility would permit extra people to entry life-saving therapy.”

Tamara Beetham, MPH, research’s lead creator, PhD scholar in well being coverage and administration at YSPH

A staggering 107,622 individuals within the U.S. died of drug overdose in 2021, a 15% enhance from 2020, in line with the U.S. Facilities for Illness Management and Prevention. Physicians ceaselessly prescribe buprenorphine to deal with opioid-use dysfunction and cut back the danger of overdose. Sufferers should usually observe up with their supplier as a part of their therapy.

Social distancing and different mandates meant to cut back infections throughout COVID-19 made it troublesome for a lot of people to entry their treatment and take part within the required follow-up visits. To handle this problem, telehealth rules had been loosened, which allowed medical suppliers to supply their sufferers digital appointments.

The Yale research surveyed 1,141 publicly registered physicians who deal with opioid-use dysfunction. The survey requested physicians about their present and retrospective use of telehealth and whether or not their perceptions of telehealth effectiveness and coverage preferences modified through the COVID pandemic. Lots of the physicians surveyed used telehealth for the primary time through the early stage of the pandemic, from lower than one-third having used telehealth to two-thirds. Over half of the respondents discovered telehealth to be simpler than anticipated in comparison with only one in 6 discovering it much less efficient. Six out of seven physicians had been in favor of creating momentary telehealth flexibility everlasting and over three-quarters of these surveyed mentioned they wish to proceed utilizing telehealth after the COVID pandemic, rules allowing. The researchers cautioned that like all surveys with out full participation, the responses is probably not consultant of all physicians treating opioid use dysfunction.

YSPH Professor of Public Well being (Well being Coverage) Susan Busch, senior creator of the research, mentioned the findings exhibit a necessity for extra investigation of medical suppliers’ views relating to telehealth flexibility.

“That so many docs discovered telehealth to be efficient after utilizing it suggests the significance of this modern technique of delivering therapy,” mentioned Busch.

Beetham agreed.

“Given the more and more alarming mortality threat, it’s crucial to contemplate the accessibility of evidence-based therapy particularly relative to that of the unpredictable, illicitly manufactured opioids which are driving overdose fatalities,” Beetham mentioned. “Having a telehealth choice could assist alleviate boundaries to life-saving care.”

The research seems on-line in The American Journal of Managed Care. The analysis was funded by the Company for Healthcare Analysis and High quality and the Nationwide Institute on Drug Abuse by means of an Opioid Coverage Instruments and Data Heart of Excellence Pilot Undertaking award.

Dr. David Fiellin, MD, professor of medication (common drugs), emergency drugs, and public well being at Yale is a co-author of the research.

Journal reference:

Beetham, T., et al. (2022) Doctor Response to COVID-19-Pushed Telehealth Flexibility for Opioid Use Dysfunction. The American Journal of Managed Care. doi.org/10.37765/ajmc.2022.89221.

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