ICYMI: Telehealth Successful in Reducing Overdoses and Supporting Better Outcomes for Opioid Use Disorder Patients

Sep 1, 2022

Study Authors Argue Findings Support “Permanently Implementing Access to Telehealth Services”

In case you missed it, a study published this week in JAMA Psychiatry and conducted from September 2018 to February 2021 found that Public Health Emergency (PHE) flexibilities expanding telehealth access reduced the risk of medically treated overdose among Medicare Opioid Use Disorder (OUD) patients. The findings lend “support for permanently implementing access to telehealth services,” the study’s authors argue. The research was conducted by the National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, a part of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC); the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH); and the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS).

Of the 175,778 Medicare beneficiaries surveyed, OUD-related telehealth services resulted in “significantly better” medication-assisted OUD treatment. Among this group, telehealth utilization for patient care rose from 0.6 percent pre-pandemic to 20 percent during the COVID-19 pandemic. The study found virtual care to be an asset in harm reduction, as surveyed medically assisted OUD patients reported a lower risk of medically treated overdose compared to those not receiving OUD-related telehealth services.

“Telehealth is a valuable service and when coupled with medications for opioid use disorder can be lifesaving,” said Wilson Compton, M.D., M.P.E, deputy director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse in the report. “This study adds to the evidence showing that expanded access to these services could have a longer-term positive impact if continued.”

The study findings are the latest in a growing body of irrefutable evidence that access to telehealth supports treatment adherence and better health outcomes for millions of patients with differing health care needs and conditions. Congress must act to safeguard access to vital virtual care services, by enacting permanent reforms to protect access to telehealth.

Read the full study HERE.

Read more on what the administration is saying on the critical role of telehealth in addressing the opioid epidemic HERE.

Learn more about how Congress can act to permanently protect telehealth access HERE


Telehealth Access for America (TAFA) is a public education campaign supported by leaders in health care committed to better care, expanded patient choice, and protecting access to critical telehealth services. Learn more and take action today at www.telehealthaccessforamerica.org.