March 30, 2023

Telehealth care, MOUD during COVID-19 reduced risk for fatal drug overdoses

Editor's Note

This study led by researchers from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention finds that federal actions taken to expand telehealth use for Medicare patients with opioid use disorder (OUD) and to facilitate provision of medications for OUD (MOUD) were associated with reduced risk of fatal drug overdoses.

This Analysis included a prepandemic cohort of 105,162 Medicare beneficiaries and a pandemic cohort of 70,479 Medicare beneficiaries.

In multivariate analysis of the pandemic cohort, receipt of OUD-related telehealth was associated with a significantly 33% lower fatal drug overdose as was receipt of MOUD from opioid treatment programs (59% lower) and from office-based settings (38% lower).

The findings demonstrate the benefits of continuing these services. Strategies to expand MOUD, increase retention in care, and address co-occurring physical and behavioral conditions are needed, the researchers say.

JAMA (healthcare publication) Network logo

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