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Telemedicine’s Impact on the Opioid Crisis and Calls to Preserve It

IHPCP

Healthcare experts are advocating for the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) to maintain the expansion of telemedicine initiated during the pandemic as a key strategy to address the opioid crisis. The DEA recently conducted a listening session to discuss its telemedicine regulations, and a notable Pennsylvania addiction treatment provider urged the federal agency to make the temporary rules permanent.

Gaudenzia, an addiction treatment and recovery services provider operating in Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, and Washington D.C., reported serving over 15,000 individuals last year. Their Chief Medical Officer, Philip Moore, emphasized the positive effect of telehealth on patient retention and treatment.

Moore asserted that telehealth played a crucial role during the pandemic, enabling Gaudenzia to establish telehealth programs for counseling, drug screenings, and the administration of medications like buprenorphine for addiction treatment. These programs provided flexibility, allowing patients to transition from residential facilities to community providers and facilitating care in rural locations.

Moore expressed concerns that discontinuing telemedicine’s expanded use would result in severe consequences, particularly for patients in rural areas.

Additionally, he supported the idea of more comprehensive training and guidelines for telemedicine, as well as improvements in patient verification and monitoring protocols.

Several healthcare workers shared concerns about diversion, where prescribed medications end up in unintended hands. They suggested that the DEA should have greater access to clinical documentation to mitigate potential misuse.

While some healthcare professionals stressed the importance of maintaining safeguards against diversion, others argued that these measures created additional barriers to care.

The American Hospital Association (AHA) opposed the DEA’s proposed rules on telemedicine providers, contending that they would impose burdensome restrictions and adversely affect access to medically necessary treatments.

On the state level, Pennsylvania launched an overdose prevention program aimed at improving training and coordination among agencies. Governor Josh Shapiro drew attention to Pennsylvania’s more than 5,000 overdose deaths in 2021 during events marking National Recovery Month.

As the DEA evaluates the future of telemedicine regulations, healthcare experts maintain a clear consensus: preserving the expanded use of telehealth is essential in addressing the opioid crisis, ensuring that individuals seeking treatment have access to critical care when and where they need it.

Comments

Samuel R Welsh 1945-2024

Samuel was an avid sportsman all his life and enjoyed both playing sports and watching them on the television. He enjoyed playing golf.

Betty Marie Miller 1937-2024

Betty worked for 36 years in the Alumni office of The Mercersburg Academy. She enjoyed travel, knitting, and spending time with family and friends.

M Marie Trostle 1919-2024

She enjoyed sewing, baking, cooking, babysitting and crocheting. She especially enjoyed quilting, where she made over 40 quilts and gave them to her family.

John Harvey Hoffman 1941-2024

John enjoyed target shooting, fishing and was known for telling great stories. He was also very proud of his family and enjoyed spending as much time with them as possible.

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