Telehealth can reduce fatal drug overdoses, study finds

Medicare beneficiaries who utilized telehealth tools for the treatment of opioid use disorder during the COVID-19 pandemic saw a 33 percent lower risk of a fatal drug overdose, according to a March 29 study published in JAMA Psychiatry.

The study compared beneficiaries with opioid use disorder from a pre-COVID-19 pandemic cohort containing 105,162 beneficiaries and a post-COVID-19 pandemic cohort containing 70,479 beneficiaries. 

According to a March 29 National Institutes of Health news release, 20 percent of beneficiaries in the post-COVID-19 cohort used telehealth tools for opioid use disorder treatment.

"At a time when more than 100,000 Americans are now dying annually from a drug overdose, the need to expand equitable access to lifesaving treatment, including medications for opioid use disorder, has never been greater," Wilson Compton, MD, deputy director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse and senior author of the study, said. "Research continues to indicate that expanded access to telehealth is a safe, effective, and possibly even lifesaving tool for caring for people with opioid use disorder, which may have a longer-term positive impact if continued."

The study comes as some lawmakers look to expand the use of telehealth.


Copyright © 2023 Becker's Healthcare. All Rights Reserved. Privacy Policy. Cookie Policy. Linking and Reprinting Policy.


Featured Whitepapers

Featured Webinars