ICYMI: Telehealth Supports Improved OUD Treatment Retention Compared to In-Person Care

Oct 25, 2023

According to a New Study, Virtual OUD Resulted in Increased Treatment Retention Among Medicaid Patients in Kentucky and Ohio

In case you missed it, a new study published in JAMA Network found that Medicaid patients who began treatment with buprenorphine for opioid use disorder (OUD) via telehealth had improved treatment retention rates compared to those who started with in-person care.

The study, which analyzed Medicaid data from November 2019 through December 2020 in Kentucky and Ohio, found that pandemic-era telehealth flexibilities increased virtual care access to buprenorphine. Further, the study, conducted by researchers at the University of Kentucky, The Ohio State University, National Institutes of Health, University of Miami, and Boston University, found that telehealth treatment resulted in 90-day retention rates compared to those who started treatment in in-person settings.

In Kentucky, the retention rate improved to 48 percent from 44 percent and to 32 percent from 28 percent in Ohio. Researchers found no increased risk of nonfatal overdose when patients underwent telehealth treatment, underscoring that expanded access to buprenorphine treatment through telehealth did not harm patients.

These findings further showcase the need for permanent telehealth protections to reduce barriers to treatment for patients struggling with OUD or similar disorders. As Telehealth Access for America (TAFA) highlighted earlier this month, “Through telehealth programs, those undergoing opioid-use disorder (OUD) treatment are reported to stay in treatment longer, were more likely to receive their medications than those attending traditional, in-person appointments, and as a result, faced a 33 percent lower risk of fatal drug overdose. This means that with telehealth intervention, more OUD patients can consistently access their appointments and are offered a better chance of obtaining essential preventative care.”

Read the full JAMA Network study HERE and learn more about how Congress can act to permanently protect patients’ access to telehealth 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