Patient Safety | 09.21.22
Increased Telehealth Use During Pandemic Linked to Reduced 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 U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 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 pandemic and those who did so after the crisis began. The study indicated 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, an analyst at CMS, noted "this method of health care delivery may address common barriers to OUD-related treatment such as transportation and perceived stigma associated with OUD."