Telehealth SUD Treatment Needs More Research, Oversight
October 15, 2021
A growing amount of treatment for substance use disorders (SUDs) has moved to telehealth providers due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This trend likely increased patients’ access to treatment, among other benefits, but researchers and plan sponsors say that the efficacy and value of virtual care modalities in SUD settings is still an open question.
Last year, during the first wave of the pandemic, the entire health care system had to make internet and telephone care available in a short time. SUD treatment was no different. A good deal of SUD treatment traditionally takes place in person, especially in peer support groups and inpatient drug detox. Researchers were already investigating whether remote SUD care is useful before the pandemic, but their work became urgent last spring and summer as providers rushed to meet social distancing requirements.