Telemedicine Feasible for Buprenorphine Initiation in Opioid Use Disorder

Higher 90-day treatment retention rates seen with no higher risk for overdose

By Lori Solomon HealthDay Reporter

MONDAY, Oct. 23, 2023 (HealthDay News) — Patients may benefit from the use of telemedicine during buprenorphine initiation for opioid use disorder (OUD) when compared with traditional initiation, according to a study published online Oct. 18 in JAMA Network Open.

Lindsey R. Hammerslag, Ph.D., from the University of Kentucky in Lexington, and colleagues examined associations between transmucosal buprenorphine OUD treatment modality (telemedicine versus traditional) during the COVID-19 public health emergency and the health outcomes of treatment retention and opioid-related nonfatal overdose. The analysis included Medicaid claims and enrollment data from 41,266 individuals in Kentucky and 50,648 individuals in Ohio (Nov. 1, 2019, to Dec. 31, 2020).

The researchers found that telemedicine buprenorphine initiations increased sharply at the beginning of 2020. Telemedicine initiation was associated with better odds of 90-day retention with buprenorphine in both states (adjusted odds ratios [95 percent confidence intervals], 1.13 [1.01 to 1.27] and 1.19 [1.06 to 1.32] for Kentucky and Ohio, respectively) when adjusting for patient demographic and comorbidity characteristics. There was no association seen between telemedicine initiation and opioid-related nonfatal overdose (adjusted odds ratios [95 percent confidence intervals], 0.89 [0.56 to 1.40] and 1.08 [0.83 to 1.41] for Kentucky and Ohio, respectively).

“These findings add to the literature demonstrating positive outcomes associated with the use of telemedicine for treatment of OUD,” the authors write.

Several authors disclosed ties to industry.

Abstract/Full Text


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