A Pilot Study of a Telemedicine-based Substance Use Disorder Evaluation to Enhance Access to Treatment Following Near-Fatal Opioid Overdose

Proc Annu Hawaii Int Conf Syst Sci. 2020;2020:3488-3496. Epub 2020 Jan 7.

Abstract

The opioid epidemic is a growing public health emergency in the United States, with deaths from opioid overdose having increased five-fold since 1999. Emergency departments (EDs) are the primary sites of medical care after near-fatal opioid overdose but are poorly equipped to provide adequate substance use treatment planning prior to discharge. In many underserved locales, limited access to clinicians trained in addiction medicine and behavioral health exacerbates this disparity. In an effort to improve post-overdose care in the ED, we developed a telemedicine protocol to facilitate timely access to substance use disorder evaluations. In this paper, we describe the conception and refinement of the telemedicine program, our experience with the first 20 participants, and potential implications of the platform on health disparities for individuals with opioid use disorder.