Thinking Outside the Clinic – Telemedicine and Hepatitis Treatment
People affected by substance use disorder often suffer from other physical or mental illnesses. Those in addiction treatment already face the challenges of consistently making it to treatment and staying sober. Co-occurring disorders like heroin addiction and Hepatitis C generate many additional obstacles which can lead to patients putting treatment of select health related issues (like hep C) on the back burner. Although this virus may not present the same urgency as withdrawal, “70%–85% for people who become infected with Hepatitis C, it becomes a long-term, chronic infection.” ¹
Some addiction treatment providers are taking an extra step to ensure that their patients healthcare needs are addressed using telemedicine. This is defined by SAMHSA as “…Two-way, real time interactive communication between the patient, and the physician or practitioner at the distant site. This electronic communication means the use of interactive telecommunications equipment that includes, at a minimum, audio and video equipment…”² Providing this service to patients with the co-occurring disorders has been shown to help address the neglected portions of their personal healthcare.
The Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI) recently awarded a 5 year, $7 million grant to a professor of medicine at University of Buffalo to support his efforts in addressing the spread of hepatitis C virus (HCV) among drug users who share needles.³ As our nation continues to deal with the opioid epidemic, Hepatitis C has increase immensely. However, the UB study is presenting positive outcomes as a result of the virtual integration of telemedicine. Read more in the full article by UB³