Specialty Health Care Options in the Time of COVID
The COVID-19 Pandemic has caused unprecedented disruption to every facet of our daily lives. We are adapting to a new life of working remotely and being social while social distancing. The current pandemic has also exposed weaknesses in the health care system. The pressure applied to the health care system as a result of COVID 19 has resulted in innovative approaches to the delivery of specialty health care services. Telehealth, while not a new concept, has been pushed to the forefront as a practical and safe way of expanding access to essential health services during this pandemic. Initially, Telehealth has been mainly focused on delivering short-term, primary care. However, recent policy changes, due to COVID, have promoted the use of Telehealth as a viable method to provide acute, chronic, primary, and specialty care services.
Implementing ways to provide specialty care, such as mental health, behavioral health and addiction support services, can be a matter of life and death, as traditional treatments and support systems often face interruptions and delays in times of crisis. During COVID, providing access to alternative treatment options for addiction support is vital. According to a survey administered by Alcohol.org, a leading provider of treatment resources for alcohol abuse, more than one-third of respondents say they believe they will drink more alcohol than usual while in self-isolation. Also, self-isolation, while necessary to curb the spread of COVID, can be a trigger for alcohol and drug relapses.
Telehealth solutions, like addiction learning management platforms and TeleMAT services, provide individuals suffering with substance use disorders fast, effective and convenient access to health care professionals trained and licensed in addiction support. Addiction learning management platforms provide users and their family members with addiction education via targeted video series. TeleMAT services allow closed-end facilities, like correctional settings, access to licensed professionals that can prescribe appropriate medications for inmates. These services allow for the initiation and continuation of medication assisted treatment in the facility. TeleMAT services also include behavioral health counseling for comprehensive care and support to these vulnerable patient populations.
If necessity is the mother of invention, disruption must be the father. The disruption of the health care system has resulted in a rise of innovative, virtual solutions to combat addiction while social distancing. While COVID has exposed the pressure points in our health care system regarding specialty care, it has also revealed the resilience of our profession to stop at nothing to deliver the best health care solutions safely.
Dr. Christopher Rosko
Vice President, Medical Affairs
Heritage Health Solutions