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The nation’s addiction to prescription painkillers is hovering at epidemic levels. The CDC reported that in 2014 more than 14,838 people died from overdoses of drugs such as oxycodone. (cite). Providers are now forced to think of new and innovative ways to help stop the epidemic, which is tied closely to the opioid epidemic. Telemedicine has become a huge savior for many rural areas trying to fight drug related deaths and conditions.
According to Kaiser Health News, “this summer, the federal government directed $1.4 million to five pilot projects located in southwest Virginia as well as Tennessee and Kentucky. One will be run by Carilion Clinic, the health system that operates Devereaux’s practice, along with other local hospitals and medical practices.”

In Virginia, where the initiative is taking place, it was reported that:

  • In 2015 a total of 4.6% of the state population abused drugs.
  • Since 2015, 600 people across the state have died from prescription opioid overdoses
Because many residents in the rural southeast don’t have easy access to psychiatry services, many providers are looking to telemedicine.

How to Use Telemedicine to Fight the Epidemic…

  • Offer remote psychiatry at local clinics
  • Create and set up “regional centers” for patients to go to help detox from opioids
  • Be willing to teleconference in with patients who can see you face to face
  • Offer training to rural providers willing to learn
  • Integrate behavioral health services into your practice or local facilities