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Telehealth Utilization for Opioid Use Disorder: A Nationwide Analysis Before and After the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency Declaration.

Introduction: The COVID-19 pandemic has led to the rapid and widespread adoption of telehealth services. Telehealth may aid in bridging gaps in access to care. The specific impact of telehealth on opioid use disorder (OUD) and its treatment remains uncertain. Methods: A retrospective review of commercial insurance claim records within the United States was conducted to investigate the association between the COVID-19 pandemic and changes in the rates of(a) OUD treatments with and without telehealth support and (b) prescriptions for medications for opioid use disorder (MOUD) with and without telehealth support among individuals diagnosed with OUD. Results: In a study population of 1,340,506 individuals, OUD diagnosis rates were 5 per 1,000 in-person and 1 per 1,000 via telehealth. COVID-19 decreased in-person OUD diagnoses by 0.89 per 1,000, while telehealth diagnoses increased by 0.83 per 1,000. In-person MOUD treatment rates increased by 0.07 per 1,000 during COVID-19, while telehealth rates remained low. The onset of COVID-19 saw a 1.13 per 1,000 higher increase in telehealth-supported MOUD treatment compared to solely in-person treatment. Conclusions: A retrospective review of commercial insurance claim records within the United States was conducted to investigate the association between the COVID-19 pandemic and changes in the rates of (a) OUD treatments with and without telehealth support and (b) prescriptions for MOUD with and without telehealth support among individuals diagnosed with OUD.

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