05 Jun Can Telehealth Help in the Battle Against the Opioid Crisis?
Note that this is the first segment of a 4-part telehealth series. Make sure to also check out: CMS is increasing Telehealth access – but, is the timing right? Could Telehealth reimbursement concerns stall its implementation? Telehealth as a Health System Expansion Strategy
Each day over 130 people die due to opioid overdose in the United States. It is important to note that “while the rate of drug use is lower in rural areas than in urban areas, the fatal overdose rate in rural areas continues to rise. In 2015, the rural overdose death rate has been higher than the urban rate since 2006” and “the Midwestern region saw opioid overdoses increase 70 percent from July 2016 through September 2017”
This increase in rural overdoses is attributed to several factors including exposure rate, how many become addicted and treatment options. Looking at the treatment options available in rural areas, in particular, you see a stark difference in the availability of Medication-assisted Treatment (MAT) treatments which is the optimal course of opioid management and resolution. Unfortunately, “60.1% of rural counties still had no waivered providers in 2016.”
While in general, it is challenging for patients to receive advanced healthcare or specialized care for complex or chronic care, in rural areas it is especially difficult for opioid patients seeking treatment. Even if patients can get to larger city centers to receive the care they need, appointment wait times can be months long, time patients with opioid addiction don’t have to wait. Due to the inadequate access of treatment centers, patients suffer negative consequences.
As when we discussed the current state of initiatives in the panel discussion from the HFMA Florida Spring Conference Annual Meeting in St. Petersburg, FL, it is luckily that the federal government has taken notice, and in 2018, President Trump declared the opioid crisis a national emergency. With lawmakers all agreeing that treatment including MAT needed to be more widely available…
Prominent among strategies proposed to ramp-up MAT access is providing it via telemedicine. Telemedicine, or the remote delivery of healthcare using telecommunications technology, has the potential to increase access to MAT medicines and concurrent therapy in underserved, remote rural areas by providing direct-to-patient or specialty consultation services from afar. Although telemedicine to treat patients with OUD (Opioid Use Disorder) has been piloted favorably, scaling up its provision is not as simple as connecting a patient to a provider. Rather, stakeholders must surmount significant regulatory, logistical, and quality hurdles before telemedicine helps to mitigate the opioid epidemic
While seemingly an uphill battle, if telemedicine technology can effectively be utilized to help opioid patients, the outcomes would be huge, especially considering that 47,000 Americans died in 2017 due to opioid overdose. Not to mention the loss in productivity in the workforce and the strain on the foster care system when parents’ addictions prevent them from caring for their children.
Telemedicine might be the new buzzword in healthcare, but its opportunities are enormous when it comes to fighting the opioid crisis. Telemedicine can provide needed services to those who require it most and are currently least likely to receive treatment.
Is your organization looking for ways to implement a telehealth system and have concerns or questions, or have you already implemented telehealth services and are struggling with its success?
Sunlit Cove Healthcare can help your organization with its telehealth expansion strategy and concerns, including navigating reimbursement. Contact us or give us a call to get started.
Sunlit Cove Healthcare Consultants
We provide management and consulting services to help healthcare businesses run efficiently. Navigating the dynamic and complex revenue cycle management is a challenge for many health plans, health care vendors, and providers. Our consulting services are available to assist with your day-to-day operations and provide expertise in growth and change management. We manage all aspects of your enterprise from the development of the revenue cycle management process to the completion of your business cycle.
Related: Policy and Procedure Development and Implementation
We can all agree that there are numerous benefits to EHR data. From better analysis, diagnosis, treatment to simply the ease of tracking of the patient’s data. The legislatio...
2020 saw many healthcare organizations scrambled to transition from traditional in-office to virtual care. Quick IT fixes, relaxed HIPAA regulations, expanded CPT codes, and Zoom v...
Join Lori Intravichit, CEO of Sunlit Cove Healthcare Consultants for the 2020 Virtual Fall Institute presented by the Georgia & South Carolina Chapters of HFMA this November 4t...
Proposed Medicare Physicians Fee Schedule Changes For 2021 And What It Means For The Future Of Telehealth
Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) released a proposed rule to update the Medicare Physician Fee Schedule (PFS) for the calendar year 2021. The 1,353 pages long pro...
Under the Hospital Price Transparency Requirements rule, hospitals will have to display payer-specific negotiated charges for at least 300 “shoppable” services, includi...