The bad news is in: opioids are killing twice as many people each year in the United States than firearm and motor vehicle-related deaths combined. The numbers are truly staggering and they are climbing each year. In the past 20 years, over 300,000 people have died from opioids in the United States. Unfortunately, while the government has made strong public statements towards the issue of drug addiction, it is failing to reach the next step in finding a solution. Many critics agree that this is due to the lack of funding.
“Trump won’t direct any new federal money to the opioid crisis. There’s just $57,000 left” to combat the opioid issue.
With the startling number of deaths, the lack of specialty clinicians available and the overwhelming majority of opioid deaths occurring in rural areas, there is one piece of technology that has helped curb the problem and that is Telehealth.
Too often, rural communities do not have the funds to allocate towards substance abuse services and the negative impacts are felt throughout. When people are struggling with addiction and have nowhere to go to treat their problem, they often feel like they’re left with little choice but to continue their addictive lifestyle. Drug addiction is a disease and those afflicted need the support of their community and medical professionals to overcome it.
Unfortunately, there’s a distinct lack of opioid specialists in rural areas. Without access to specialists, their treatment options are limited and jeopardizes their chances of recovery. For example: the patient can find the support of a relatively nearby provider who may not be compatible.. or travel a long distance and take a chance on a professional they’ve never met face-to-face before. Neither of these are optimal but unfortunately, rural areas simply do not have enough healthcare professionals available per capita to support the need.
Telemedicine bridges this gap and gives patients a wider breadth of face-to-face clinicians, including specialists, to choose from. For the specialists, Telemedicine ostensibly gives them a larger pool of patients to work with and encourages them to spread the help they can offer to otherwise inaccessible patients.
How Telemedicine Can Combat the Opioid Crisis in Rural Areas
Thanks to the advent of HIPAA-compliant video services provided in Telemedicine, rural patients can now access the medical help they need without having to leave their communities. Opioid-addicted patients can now reach clinicians and specialists either through their local hospital or from their own homes using mobile Telemedicine apps and services.
The ability to interact with medical professionals who do not live in their area is a great advancement to the delivery of care for opioid patients in rural areas. It removes the travel constraints when needing to speak with a healthcare professional, but retains the importance of a face-to-face visit. Instead of having to travel a long distance and spend the night where the clinician is located, the patients can easily access the care they need over video consultations. Patients can also expect the same emphasis on patient confidentiality through HIPAA compliant Telemedicine as they would an in-person visit.
While, generally, rural patients have difficulty making appointments with an opioid specialist, Telemedicine services have made it possible for them to effectively seek the care they need. It’s impossible to stereotype an opioid-addicted person, but it is easy to suggest that people who are facing extreme problems with opioids are likely in no shape to travel a long-distance to get the services they need. Telemedicine puts help within arm’s reach.
If you’re interested in learning more about how you can provide Telemedicine services positively impact your business and the lives of people suffering from addiction, please contact us today. Our HIPAA-compliant video service has the most streamlined workflow to help you connect securely and easily with patients across the globe.