Telehealth creates socially distanced substance use disorder treatment
The Coronavirus pandemic is a huge disruptor for medical professionals and patients alike in the practice of substance use disorder treatment, but the implementation of Telehealth practices at treatment centers across the state continue to help experts combat the deadly disease of addiction.
A key component of substance use treatment is establishing a support system of family, friends and medical professionals to help patients through treatment. Maintaining this support system is inherently more difficult with social distancing recommendations. However, Telehealth has been a primary focus for Recovia since we implemented our program in March following Gov. Doug Ducey’s Executive Order to expand the service to cover all in-person visits.
Treatment centers are currently able to provide full treatment programs virtually, meaning patients can participate in their appointments from the safety of their homes. Telehealth has allowed healthcare providers to continue seeing patients with very little change apart from it being a virtual space. Pts arrive into a virtual waiting room and are then brought into each appointment. Individual and group therapy sessions as well as physical therapy are conducted via Zoom. Our physical therapists have set-up Virtual Physical Therapy offices with the proper equipment and privacy needed for a telehealth visit.
Substance use disorder treatment is best when patients and health experts can meet in-person, but it is great that we are able to continue to help patients without putting the patient or provider’s health at risk.
Safety measures have been implemented to ensure we are able to help patients in case of emergency. Patients must be at home at the address we have on file during sessions and our patient advocate reaches out to patients when they do not show for their appointment. Patients must verbally confirm they are in a private and safe space at the beginning of each session.
Telehealth has proven to be a great system for us to continue to provide treatment during a time when many individuals struggling with addiction are stuck in their homes without a support system. Covid-19 is a risk to patients, and so are untreated substance use disorders. Telehealth has allowed patients who are either unable to or uncomfortable coming into the clinic to continue to get treatment.
Regardless of COVID-19, Telehealth treatment was on the horizon for Recovia with plans to launch our Virtual Care platform in September 2020. The timeline moved up a few months and now the program has had the opportunity to grow so that we can continue to provide a Telehealth option in the post-COVID-19 world.
Devin Lincenberg, Psy.D. is the Program Director at Recovia, an outpatient treatment facility with locations in Tempe, Deer Valley, and Virtual Care.