As opioid overdose deaths rise, the need for wider access to effective treatment is evident. Buprenorphine, a medication for opioid use disorder (MOUD), has been proven to be safe and effective, but treatment utilization has been low among individuals with opioid use disorder (OUD). Telemedicine-delivered buprenorphine treatment expanded during the COVID-19 pandemic due to certain federal and state regulatory changes, such as the Ryan Haight Act which had restricted remote prescribing of controlled substances like buprenorphine. Telemedicine has been shown to be effective in increasing treatment access for mental health disorders. This rapid systematic review identified and examined studies from PubMed and PsycInfo on the effectiveness of telemedicine interventions to deliver buprenorphine treatment for patients with OUD. Out of 457 studies that met our search criteria, 11 studies met the inclusion criteria, which assessed videoconferencing, telephone-based services, texting, and mobile application interventions. Studies included psychotherapy and buprenorphine treatment, and varied in size, quality, and length of follow-up. Several studies suggest that videoconferencing and/or telephone-based interventions have comparable clinical outcomes to standard in-person care. The few studies assessing texting and mobile application interventions suggest that these modalities are associated with high patient satisfaction and can be used in conjunction with existing OUD treatment to provide additional support for patients. However, most studies had considerable methodological limitations, such as small sample sizes and lack of comparison groups. Future research is needed, including larger randomized studies to evaluate the effectiveness of different telemedicine modalities, to increase treatment utilization among individuals with OUD.
Tang, Dorothy, "Telemedicine-delivered Buprenorphine Treatment Interventions for Opioid Use Disorder: A Rapid Review" (2021). Master of Public Health Capstone Presentations. Presentation 390.