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Telehealth reduced threat of opioid overdoses during pandemic, study says

A new study finds an increased use of telehealth services during the COVID-19 pandemic reduced the risk of opioid overdose. File photo courtesy of West Virginia Attorney General's Office

A fresh study finds an elevated usage of telehealth services through the COVID-19 pandemic reduced the chance of opioid overdose. File photo thanks to West Virginia Attorney General’s Office

Aug. 31 (UPI) — A fresh study found the chance of opioid overdoses dropped through the COVID-19 pandemic as more folks accessed telehealth services.

Researchers at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services published their findings Wednesday showing telehealth managed to get easier for Medicare beneficiaries to gain access to look after opioid use disorder, and also medications for opioid use disorder.

In the beginning of the pandemic, the Trump administration expanded telehealth programs for Medicare beneficiaries, which federal officials said improved care and reduced the chances of a medically treated overdose.

Researchers viewed data from a lot more than 170,000 Medicare beneficiaries and found those that received telehealth care through the pandemic were more prone to get medical help, in comparison to prior to the pandemic when usage of telehealth was more limited.

“The findings showed that telehealth improved the receipt and retention of MOUD, suggesting that approach to healthcare delivery may address common barriers to OUD-related treatment such as for example transportation and perceived stigma connected with OUD,” said Carla Shoff, a social science research analyst at CMS.

While telehealth through the COVID-19 pandemic reduced the chance of opioid overdoses, another study published in Lancet in February found the pandemic increased the usage of opioids because of stressors including quarantine, unemployment and lack of family members.

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