Telemedicine is a way that people all over the world can get access to healthcare through the internet, and many feel it will be the way of the future not just for physical health, but for mental health and drug addiction as well as well. In the next decade, telemedicine could be a brave new way to fight drug and alcohol addiction, and the Health and Human Services Department has been speaking out.
“An Important Tool”
As MHealth Intelligence reports, the Health and Human Services Department just sent the word through a blog. This blog was posted right before Prescription Opioid and Heroin Epidemic Awareness Week.
Right now, there is a big concern about patients who have Opioid Use Disorder (OUD), who often need to have access to Medication Assisted Treatment (MAT). As this blog states, the goal is “to help providers understand how telemedicine can be used, in certain circumstances, to expand access to buprenorphine-based MAT.”
Buprenorphine is one of several medications people suffering from opioid addiction are given in MAT (others include methadone and naltrexone). In the near future, you can carefully consult and manage patients in recovery through telemedicine, and this means that doctors can reach more people around the world and get them help virtually. (One of the boons of telemedicine is people in rural areas who have a hard time getting to doctors can now see them virtually via the internet and get the treatment they need without having to travel long distances.)
As this blog continues, HHS, in conjunction with the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), has developed new techniques and ways that telemedicine can help with addiction. They have established “a clinical practice example” that shows doctors how they can treat people “that is consistent with applicable DEA and HHS administered authorities.”
Telemedicine Opening Up the World of Recovery
While it may take some time for telemedicine to become an everyday fact of life, many are already tipping their big toe in the water and want to know more. President Trump is interested in pushing telemedicine forward and as Tech Health Perspectives reports, “The Trump Administration is likely to drive telehealth advancement in a positive direction.”
One of the most significant problems with addiction is isolation. When people are stuck in a spiderweb of drug abuse, they start hiding and isolating themselves, and telemedicine can help open up new doors and break down barriers.
As one social worker told MHealth Intelligence, “Addiction is a disease of isolation. Its polar opposite is not sobriety but connection, which is the very thing that telehealth advances can exponentially multiply.”
This social worker also predicts that “telemedicine for addiction will only become more mainstream in the years to come – we’ve only begun to tap into its vast potential to connect millions of underserved people with the help and treatment they need.”
And as Health IT Outcomes reports, in treating addiction, telemedicine can be very useful in the areas of “privacy, schedule flexibility, and access to treatment by nearly everyone…with remote care, patients have more options to fit in a rehab session, and last but not least, telemedicine significantly reduces the costs associated with treatment…”
There are still a lot of things that need to be worked out as telemedicine progresses, but again, it can be a potent tool in fighting addiction, and it could be the crucial first step in getting many people to seek help and accept help.
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