HumanInsight Implementation of Telemedicine Delivery of Medications for Opioid Use Disorder in Pennsylvania Treatment Programs During COVID-19
J Addict Med. 2022 Sep 20. doi: 10.1097/ADM.0000000000001079. Online ahead of print.
INTRODUCTION: Temporary policy changes during the coronavirus disease 2019 pandemic facilitated rapid expansion of medication for opioid use disorder via telemedicine (tele-MOUD). Evidence for tele-MOUD best practices and its impact on treatment engagement and retention remains limited. This quality improvement initiative compared tele-MOUD implementation among Pennsylvania medication for opioid use disorder (MOUD) programs, evaluated sociodemographic characteristics of patients using tele-MOUD, and described trends in tele-MOUD use and patient engagement and retention.
METHODS: Five health systems with MOUD programs completed questionnaires regarding their tele-MOUD models and provided aggregated sociodemographic data for MOUD patients with in-person and telemedicine visits in 2020. Three programs provided aggregated monthly appointment data (scheduled, completed, no-show, tele-MOUD visits) over the period in which tele-MOUD scaled up.
RESULTS: Differences in tele-MOUD protocols related to provision of tele-MOUD inductions, patient eligibility for tele-MOUD, and operationalization of remote drug testing. Across programs, 88% of prescribers conducted tele-MOUD appointments, and 50% of patients used tele-MOUD in 2020. We observed sociodemographic differences, with a greater proportion of female, White, and non-Hispanic patients using tele-MOUD. Across programs with appointment data, overall patient enrollment increased, and new patient enrollment remained relatively constant. Engagement trends suggested a temporary decline in no-show appointments that aligned with the escalation of tele-MOUD in one program.
CONCLUSIONS: Tele-MOUD protocol differences indicate a need for research to inform evidence-based guidance. Findings suggest that patients largely remained engaged and retained in MOUD as tele-MOUD was implemented but reveal inequities in tele-MOUD use, highlighting the need for efforts to overcome technology access barriers and avoid exacerbating disparities in MOUD access.
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