During SAMHSA’s National Prevention Week, AAAP President, Kevin Sevarino, MD, PhD and Medical Director, Karen Drexler, MD discuss telemedicine legislation during the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond. Both underscore the necessity for substance use disorder education and training for the host of the O’Neil and Associates podcast, Joe Alviani.

When asked about challenges and opportunities the COVID-19 pandemic has created in treating substance use disorders, the AAAP guests illustrate how some of the risk-mitigation strategies put in place have decreased the ability of some providers to see patients in person as frequently. But they also underscore innovation at place driving providers to go outside their comfort zone and use telehealth to deliver care. Drs. Sevarino discusses increases seen in the number of people seeking buprenorphine treatment and decreases in the number being inducted onto methadone. The speakers credit SAMHSA, CMS and the DEA for changing telehealth and telemedicine legislation to allow induction to buprenorphine and the relaxation of rules for providing take-home bottles of methadone. Some of the other challenges discussed surrounded internet access in rural communities and for homeless individuals, and access to devices like iPads. When asked if some of the legislation changes made to help address these challenges should be made permanent, Dr. Severino indicated that AAAP and other organizations will likely be pushing for this.

Beyond telemedicine and COVID-19, Drs. Severino and Drexler step back to illustrate how fundamental and important education and training is for substance use disorders, particularly for opioid use disorder, and how AAAP will continue to advocate for basic training on substance use disorders for all healthcare professionals from medical school on. The full recording is linked here.

View a transcript of the podcast.