A new study, published in January 2023 in The Journal of Rural Health, examined the current accessibility of buprenorphine in the United States. It found that “23.9% of the US population does not have access to any buprenorphine waivered provider with a capacity to accept new patients within a 30 miles radius”. This problem is especially prevalent in counties (many being rural) with a low broadband penetration rate.
The study concluded that increased telehealth flexibilities, which were brought about by Federal policy initiatives in response to COVID-19, are expected to increase the number of providers who can prescribe buprenorphine. “To translate into more patients utilizing treatment via telemedicine, high-speed internet access will be essential1”, especially because so many people without a nearby provider also have low broadband penetration rates.
For more information on telehealth for substance use, see below:
- Integration Academy – Telehealth-related Substance Use Tools & Resources
- Integration Academy – Telehealth and Behavioral Health Integration
- Rural Health Information Hub – Rural Telehealth Models, Implementation Considerations, and Resources
- U.S Department of Health & Human Services – Telehealth Best Practice Guides
1 Ali MM, Ghertner R. Broadband access and telemedicine adoption for opioid use disorder treatment in the United States. J Rural Health. 2023 Jan;39(1):233-239. doi: 10.1111/jrh.12699. Epub 2022 Jul 15. PMID: 35838414.