the U.S. Federal Govt and Congress continue to extol the benefits and needs of Telehealth and Telemedicine programs that assist healthcare providers in treating people with substance abuse issues with a significant upgrade, thanks to a massive bill passed by Congress and headed to President Donald Trump’s desk.
Additional improvement provisions are included in the SUPPORT for Patients and Communities Act (H.R. 6) ; which include improvements to Medicare reimbursement for telehealth programs and support for an innovative telemedicine-based program that trains rural and remote healthcare providers on how to treat patients with substance abuse and mental health issues. These and several other provisions open the door to the use of connected-care platforms to expand treatment to underserved populations.
Telehealth and Telehealth are expanding! Yes, most of us believed that this would be the case, but there were na-sayers who did not believe that Telemed and Telehealth had a place in healthcare.
Joel White, Executive Director of Health IT Now’s Opioid Safety Alliance, formed earlier this year to lobby for inclusion of health IT and connected care programs in the bill said: “Today’s final passage of the SUPPORT for Patients and Communities Act marks a watershed moment in the fight to combat the devastating opioid crisis and spare more lives from the pain of substance abuse. Health IT Now’s Opioid Safety Alliance fought hard for the inclusion of data-driven, 21st-Century solutions to address this public health emergency – and won.”
The bill has helped to remove bureaucratic barriers to this vital healthcare platform. Reducing the barriers to healthcare services for those suffering from addiction and helping to modernize the practices for prescribing controlled substances helps to create a full and complete ecosystem for those suffering from these challenges. The U.S. government has begun to really understand the power of this platform to help more people while enhancing patient safety.
According to a HHS blog post: HHS has developed materials to help clarify how clinicians can use telemedicine as a tool to expand buprenorphine-based MAT for opioid use disorder treatment.
Working with the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), HHS developed materials to help clarify how clinicians can use telemedicine as a tool to expand buprenorphine-based MAT for opioid use disorder treatment under current DEA regulations. HHS is committed to improving access to medication-assisted treatment (MAT) for opioid use disorder (OUD) and is working on a variety of strategies to improve access to this life saving treatment through increased funding to states and communities, payment policy changes, and education, training and technical assistance. One such area is to help providers understand how telemedicine can be used, in certain circumstances, to expand access to buprenorphine-based MAT.
Combating the opioid crisis is a top priority for the Trump Administration and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). And the administration is seeking the help of the Telemedicine and Telehealth companies to help solve this problem. The reluctance of doctors and substance abuse clinicians to utilize these vital platforms will dissipate with more education and experience.