A telehealth inpatient addiction consult service is both feasible and effective in reducing readmission rates

J Addict Dis. 2023 Jul-Sep;41(3):225-232. doi: 10.1080/10550887.2022.2090822. Epub 2022 Jul 12.


The COVID-19 pandemic compelled fast adaptation of telehealth to addiction treatment services. This study aims to examine the feasibility and effectiveness of transitioning an in-person hospital addiction consult service (ACS) to telehealth. The Stanford Hospital ACS adapted to the pandemic by transforming an in-person ACS to a telehealth ACS. We compared 30-day readmission rates in patients with and without an addiction medicine consult pre-pandemic (in-person ACS) and during the pandemic (telehealth ACS). The ACS completed 370 and 473 unique patient consults in the year preceding (in-person consults) and during the pandemic (telehealth consults) respectively. Patients seen by telehealth ACS had decreased 30-day readmission rates consistent with those seen before COVID-19. A telehealth ACS is feasible and effective in the in-patient setting. Telehealth ACS holds promise to extend the reach of substance use disorder evaluation and treatment in underserved areas.

Keywords: COVID; Telehealth; addiction consult; hospital; readmission.

MeSH terms

  • COVID-19* / epidemiology
  • Humans
  • Inpatients
  • Pandemics
  • Patient Readmission
  • Telemedicine*