Some health professionals say telemedicine could help fight the opioid epidemic, according to The Washington Post. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has directed $1.4 million to five pilot projects that will use video chat to connect patients with physicians who are trained in treating addiction.
Using telemedicine to treat addiction faces significant challenges, the article notes. Prescribing and monitoring addiction medications must be done “face to face, by a physician who has been licensed [by the Drug Enforcement Administration]. That’s a barrier,” said Richard Merkel, Associate Professor of Psychiatry and Neurobehavioral Science at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville.
The university, which is part of the USDA initiative, will provide remote addiction and mental health treatment to 11 rural community health centers. The university is considering establishing regional centers where patients could go for addiction medications.