Despite a rapid shift by care providers to remote health technologies, deaths from drug overdoses and alcohol addiction have increased during the COVID-19 pandemic. According to research, alcoholism still ranks third when it comes to the most deadly diseases in the United States. This is because substance use dependencies and disorders thrive on the kind of loneliness and lack of accountability people experience during the quarantine period. Telemedicine applications have become a go-to solution for care providers looking to monitor such patients. They increase face-to-face interaction while eliminating the need for inpatient visits. Patients can receive notifications that remind them about the next online therapy appointment so they won’t avoid or miss out on them. Before looking at ways healthcare providers can apply the tools to addiction treatment services, we look at the telemedicine definition.
Also known as remote medicine, telemedicine primarily deals in clinical uses of long-distance technology including diagnosing a patient over the phone. The initial application of telemedicine mental health services began when psychiatric wards set up camera systems to enable care providers living out of the state to observe patient behavior. It has since evolved into the mainstream with more rehab centers using it to monitor addicts. Several studies suggest remote medicine technologies may lead to improved treatment retention when compared to in-person visits.
Remote Health Services Unique to Addicts
Technologies that have generated the greatest interest in addiction treatment are smartphone mobile applications and video conferencing. The primary benefits of videoconferencing are increased access to physicians who can prescribe drugs for conditions such as opioid dependence. Also, addicts living in rural areas can access care too. Smartphone mobile apps enable health care providers to reach individuals undergoing treatment but living outside the rehab centers.
Here is how to apply remote medicine services to addiction treatment and recovery.
A Complementary Service
The telemedicine definition shows that telehealth is only a tool, not a new way of practicing medicine. This means the online doctor has already established a relationship with their patients and only uses remote medicine applications to maintain that relationship. The care provider can also use the approach to obtain progress updates and perform interventional communication, especially using mobile devices. Most digital health programs for addiction come with a behavioral health complement that can be used as remote therapy.
While evidence to show the effectiveness of remote medicine technologies is limited, a study on smartphone apps found that they increased abstinence rates and reduced drinking days than regular care. Moreover, they reduced the number of drinks an addict would take per day. The positive results are mainly attributed to the texting interventions made using mobile apps.
Cultivate Healthy Behavior
Apart from monitoring a patient’s condition, healthcare providers can use the tool to cultivate healthy behavior patterns. They can show patients how the treatment helps solve problems, thus encouraging them to follow healthy behavior. Consider recommending programs specially designed for mental health and show patients how to make lifestyle changes.
Patients Feel in Control
Control is one aspect addicts crave, and according to the telemedicine definition, they can regain this feeling. The approach encourages autonomy by helping patients make healthy decisions without coercion. Keep in mind that care providers are talking to patients in their environments, making it easy for them to be in charge and show initiative when making decisions. Encouraging the patients to reach out to the care provider via telemedicine mental health Florida tools when necessary helps them feel in control.
Monitor Patients with Multiple Health Issues
Most addictions escalate in the wake of other health problems like chronic pain, making it challenging for physicians to monitor all such conditions simultaneously. With online pain doctors, consultation physicians can monitor acute conditions and stop them from having a deeper impact on the patient’s lives. This is because telehealth tools provide detailed insight into the patient’s illnesses and how they interact with each other.
The chronic nature of drug addiction and alcoholism calls for methods that enable clinicians to be in constant communication with patients for extended periods. According to the telemedicine definition, physicians can enhance this access by removing geographical barriers and stigma. This method not only facilitates access to healthcare, but it also fosters communication among recovering addicts and healthcare providers, which is critical when encouraging them to follow healthy habits.