According to a new study, telehealth services have reduced the risk of overdose deaths during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The published study found that increased telehealth use for outpatient opioid use disorder (OUD) services was associated with decreased overdose deaths.
The COVID-19 pandemic has increased telehealth use for various medical services, including addiction treatment. Although outpatient office-based addiction treatment providers have been hesitant to adopt telehealth modalities to provide care, there is a clear need for such services during this time of social distancing and sheltering.2 This is particularly true for people with substance use disorders (SUDs); they have a higher chance of getting COVID-19 and dying from it.
Increased use of telehealth for addiction treatment during the pandemic is associated with a reduced risk of overdose. A recent study found that people with opioid use disorder (OUD) who received care through telehealth had a significantly lower risk of overdose than those who received in-person care.3 This is likely because telehealth can provide more frequent and tailored contact with patients, which can help to identify early signs of relapse and prevent overdoses.
Patients With Telehealth-Based Care
Additionally, the study found that telehealth-based care decreased the number of hospitalizations for OUD.
If your loved one is battling opioid addiction, please seek help from a qualified medical professional. Telehealth services may be able to help you get the treatment you need to recover from your addiction and live a healthy, drug-free life.
The study also found that patients who received telehealth-based care were more likely to stay in treatment and have improved clinical outcomes.
The study’s findings suggest that telehealth-based care may be an effective way to treat patients with OUD. This type of care can provide patients access, improve clinical outcomes, and reduce the number of overdoses and deaths associated with OUD.
Researchers believe that this is because telehealth allows for more frequent contact with healthcare providers, which can help to prevent relapse and overdose.
One study found that telehealth patients felt more connected to their care team and more comfortable discussing sensitive topics, like mental health or substance use, with their providers.
While there are many benefits to using telehealth, there are also some challenges. One challenge is that not all patients can access the technology needed to participate in telehealth visits. Another challenge is that some patients may feel uncomfortable discussing issues over the phone or computer.
Despite these challenges, telehealth is a promising tool that can help patients access the care they need. With more research, telehealth may become an even more effective way to improve patient outcomes.
Cost-Effective, Leading to the Broader Use
Telehealth has also been cost-effective, leading to the broader use of this type of care.
Several studies have shown that telehealth can lead to cost savings for patients and providers. One study found that using telehealth resulted in a 25% reduction in hospital admissions and a 30% reduction in emergency department visits. Another study found that patients who used telehealth had 43% fewer outpatient visits than those who did not.
Telehealth can also help to reduce the length of hospital stays. One study found that patients who used telehealth had an average stay of 1.5 days shorter than those who did not.
The use of telehealth can also help to reduce the need for transportation to and from appointments.
In addition to cost savings, telehealth can also lead to improved health outcomes. According to one study, telehealth patients had a 12% reduced mortality risk compared to those who did not.