Treating Patients With Opioid Use Disorder in Their Homes

An Emerging Treatment Model

Published in: JAMA Network (2020). doi: 10.1001/jama.2020.3940

Posted on RAND.org on May 29, 2020

by Lori Uscher-Pines, Haiden A. Huskamp, Ateev Mehrotra

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Approximately 50,000 deaths from opioid overdose occur each year in the US, and the prevalence of heroin use is increasing. Although more than 2 million people with an opioid use disorder (OUD) need treatment and an increasing number of individuals are receiving treatment, less than 20% receive effective medications such as buprenorphine. Individuals may encounter many barriers to receiving medication treatment including inadequate supply and distribution of clinicians who can provide it, stigma related to drug use, and intensity of traditional OUD treatment. This approach has become even more important in the midst of the worldwide coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic. Telehealth for OUD in the home is a new treatment model that has emerged in recent years that may help to address these issues. In this Viewpoint, we discuss what is contributing to the emergence of this new service, the structure of the care, and how recent federal legislation and COVID-19 may accelerate growth.

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