Telemedicine for Substance Use Disorder

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Introduction

Telemedicine, the new addiction treatment model, offers healthcare to individuals using digital devices like computers and smartphones (of course, with a data plan).

This article mainly targets opioid treatment near me. The healthcare providers use MAT therapy to help individuals deal with withdrawals. Under MAT, a controlled medication is prescribed, and then the patient’s progress is monitored with a treatment plan that usually includes mental health therapy.

In the last few years, providers have considered the use of telemedicine to aid that process by prescribing the medication remotely. It also aids in remote patient monitoring and staying connected with patients during the treatment.

Since this Covid-19 pandemic has forced providers to avoid in-person treatments, there has arisen an urgency to connect patients with their providers through some medium because the suboxone treatment centers have reported an increase in the number of substance abuse issues.

The Ryan Haight Online Pharmacy Consumer Protection Act of 2008 had restricted the use of telemedicine because it demanded the providers to prescribe controlled medication only after conducting an in-person examination. However, when the telehealth advocates at sublocade treatment centers argued that the act hinders the patients’ treatment process with a substance use disorder, the DEA waived that personal, in-person requirement temporarily. It was done on March 16, 2020, calling it a public health emergency exception.

It is not confirmed whether the public health emergency exemption is going to remain in effect after the pandemic is over, but for now, telemedicine is providing some benefits to the patients as well as to the healthcare providers at opioid treatment centers near me.

Benefits of telemedicine for patients

This model of treating patients is most successful when the individual suffering from substance use disorder seeks care from any qualified professional. Some of the benefits of telemedicine include:

Lower costs

People who use telemedicine do not have to bear the expenses of commuting regularly. An additional benefit is that since there is no time invested in commuting, secondary costs such as that of hiring a babysitter if you have a kid are also excluded. 

Accessibility

According to the doctors at buprenorphine treatment centers, telemedicine makes healthcare easily accessible to individuals. It is especially true for individuals with geographic or financial barriers to quality healthcare.

Convenient

This addiction treatment model allows individuals easy access to healthcare in the comfort of their homes. The burden of taking time off from work and that of travel is reduced.

Frequent communication

Telemedicine provides patients the benefit of frequent communication with their doctors at sublocade treatment centers—constant communication aids in retention and adherence.

Privacy

Telemedicine offers additional confidentiality safeguards and privacy to the patients.

Apart from all the benefits mentioned above, telemedicine also eliminates the risk of infection spread by avoiding direct human contact. It is especially beneficial in times like the Covid-19 pandemic.

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Benefits of telemedicine for doctors at buprenorphine treatment centers

The telemedicine model protects doctors from getting exposed to illness and infections, but apart from that, it provides other benefits such as:

Less overhead expenses

The doctors at suboxone treatment centers near me incur comparatively fewer overhead expenses when they provide telemedicine treatment. For example, there is no expense to bear for the office’s front desk support, less investment in acquiring a small office space (since lesser in-person examination rooms are required), etc.

More revenue

Telemedicine may boost the income of experienced doctors. The time invested in each patient is comparatively less, which allows them to examine more patients and provide care to more individuals with substance use disorder.

Besides these, the doctors also get a peek into their patient’s private lives. It may help the doctors in the treatment process.

Even though using telemedicine has several benefits, it also has some drawbacks.

The drawbacks of telemedicine for patients

● People who depend on their insurance cover for addiction treatment may have a disadvantage here because all insurers may not necessarily cover the telemedicine cost. 

● Patients who do not have access to a computer or a smartphone with a data plan or the ones who lack technical literacy may not benefit from this model.

● Privacy is a concern here because personal data may get hacked by unauthorized parties.

● Telemedicine is not appropriate for patients with unstable living conditions and also for the ones who require emergency care.

The drawbacks of telemedicine for doctors

● The doctors who are experienced in in-person buprenorphine treatment may not necessarily provide the best care digitally. Also, doctors depend entirely on the reports provided by the patients during telemedicine. So, if the patient leaves out a piece of crucial information, the treatment may get hindered.

● Finding the appropriate digital platform can be challenging. The doctors must ensure that the platform they use is compliant with privacy laws and is safe and secure to use.

In the end

Research on using telemedicine to provide MAT therapy is ongoing, and no one knows for sure of the effectiveness of this model. But with stay-at-home directives and lockdown impositions being the new normal due to the pandemic situations, telemedicine can help patients address their addiction woes effectively.

We can conclude that telemedicine and associated medical interventions are the best bet when the patients have no other option to treat their addiction problems and seek help. Telemedicine has also come up as an emergency healthcare and treatment alternative under these unprecedented situations.

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