Johns Hopkins physician: 4 reasons to leverage telemedicine for opioid addiction treatment

Robert C. Bollinger, MD, a professor of infectious diseases at Baltimore-based Johns Hopkins School of Medicine and founder of mHealth company emocha, laid out four reasons telemedicine can help address the opioid epidemic in an op-ed for The Hill.

Telemedicine can increase access to treatment for those suffering from opioid addiction, Dr. Bollinger wrote. He added it's particularly important to consider alternative avenues to traditional healthcare delivery, since physicians are already struggling to treat those in need. One in 10 people with substance use disorder receive treatment, according to a recent Surgeon General report cited by Dr. Bollinger.

Here's how telemedicine addresses four common barriers patients face when seeking treatment for substance use disorder.

1. Distance. Telemedicine provides an avenue for patients to continue seeing their provider of choice, even if they live far away from a treatment center.

2. Scheduling. Delivering a patient's healthcare data to a remote physician — without the need for live interaction — enables providers to use time more efficiently and eliminates scheduling barriers.

3. Treatment response. Remote patient monitoring enables physicians to access information about a patient's response to treatment at multiple points outside of a physical office visit.

4. Adherence. Telemedicine allows physicians to respond to potential adherence problems at the "point-of-need," rather than waiting until a patient visits the office to discuss their challenges.

"During a public health emergency, a person's ability to obtain treatment for opioid use disorder should not depend on access to transportation, proximity to a provider or the ability to take time off of work," Dr. Bollinger wrote. "Given the availability of effective, safe and accessible technology, telemedicine must be considered as a necessary part of the solution to this crisis."

To access Dr. Bollinger's op-ed, click here.

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FCC to consider rural telehealth proposal in December

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