Telehealth services have been on the rise for several years, and the COVID-19 pandemic has increased the speed at which these services are being rolled out to the public.
Experts have predicted for some time that telehealth would become the new way patients received their medical care, especially in areas like addiction treatment.
Now, a study by researchers from the American Psychiatric Association has found that, since the start of the pandemic, telehealth services aimed at patients needing treatment for addiction have become more common, and this is a trend that the experts predict will continue.
According to researcher Tami L. Mark, Ph.D. “Telehealth may allow patients to more easily begin and stay in addiction treatment, which has been a longstanding challenge. However, research is needed to confirm this benefit.
As providers pivot to telehealth models — offering both telehealth and in-person treatment — they need the information to help target telehealth to the most appropriate services and patients.”
A new way to treat addiction
The risks of addiction have been rising since the start of the pandemic. For example, one study found that the number of opioid overdoses increased by 30% in 2020, and similar figures have been seen in a number of other types of addiction.
The study into telehealth treatment analyzed data that compared in-person treatments to virtual alternatives, and they found that there were many benefits of treating patients virtually.
In-person treatments did lead to more long-term success, and patients reported higher levels of satisfaction with this service and the ability to build stronger connections.
However, they also reported some benefits to virtual options, especially when they were used for one-on-one support sessions, rather than group ones.
One of the biggest advantages that were reported was that it allowed patients to stay active in their treatment during the pandemic when they otherwise wouldn’t have been able to attend.