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Pandemic telehealth rules reduced opioid overdoses, boosted access to treatment meds, research finds

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Dive Transient:

  • Expanded telehealth providers for substance use issues in the course of the COVID-19 pandemic lowered the chances of medically handled opioid overdoses amongst Medicare sufferers, based on a examine revealed Wednesday in JAMA Psychiatry.
  • Larger entry to telehealth visits additionally improved retention amongst Medicare sufferers taking medicines for opioid use dysfunction, the examine discovered.
  • The findings lend assist for everlasting adoption of such insurance policies and guaranteeing expanded entry for substance use dysfunction remedy is “urgently wanted,” the examine’s authors wrote.

Dive Perception:

Authorities companies relaxed a wide range of guidelines firstly of the COVID-19 pandemic, aiming to make sure individuals have been nonetheless in a position to obtain ample medical care, even amid stay-at-home orders and reluctance visiting medical settings.

These modifications initially gave technique to skyrocketing telehealth use, with greater than two in 5 Medicare beneficiaries getting digital care in the course of the first 12 months of the pandemic, based on an HHS Workplace of Inspector Common report.

The brand new findings recommend digital visits have been efficient in managing sure situations, like substance use issues, amongst Medicare beneficiaries.

Researchers checked out CMS knowledge from two cohorts of grownup Medicare fee-for-service beneficiaries: the primary collected earlier than the pandemic, from September 2018 to February 2020, and the second in the course of the pandemic, from September 2019 to February 2021.

Finally they discovered {that a} bigger share of beneficiaries used telehealth providers for substance use issues in the course of the pandemic than earlier than the pandemic.

Beneficiaries additionally had larger entry to and obtained extra medicines for opioid use dysfunction, together with methadone, buprenorphine and extended-release naltrexone in the course of the pandemic than earlier than, the examine discovered. 

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