Increased Telehealth Use During Pandemic Linked to Reduce Overdose Risk: Study
The pandemic-related expansion of telehealth services was associated with a lower risk of opioid overdoses, according to a study of over 170,000 Medicare beneficiaries by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the National Institutes of Health, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), and other federal agencies. The study compared beneficiaries who initiated opioid use disorder (OUD) treatment before the COVID-19 pandemic and those who did so after the pandemic began. The study indicated that those in the pandemic group were more likely to receive OUD-related telehealth care and corresponding medications and had a lower risk of experiencing a medically treated overdose. Carla Shoff, a social science research analyst at CMS, noted that "this method of healthcare delivery may address common barriers to OUD-related treatment such as transportation and perceived stigma associated with OUD." However, Black beneficiaries and those living in the South were less likely to receive telehealth services, according to the study.
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