Mid-week roundup: telehealth success in opioid use disorder treatment, Epic sees fewer followup visits from telehealth vs in-office, telehealth usage slightly lower, HCA data theft may affect 11 million

Success reported in opioid use disorder (OUD) treatment using telehealth in conjunction with medication-assisted treatment (MAT). A recent study presented at the annual ASAM Conference indicates that in a study published by a telehealth MAT provider, Ophelia, that telehealth+MAT can achieve retention rates significantly higher than traditional in-person care. Published in The American Journal of Drug and Alcohol Abuse, their findings were that 56.4% of Ophelia’s OUD patients remained in treatment for six months, with 48.3% remaining for one year. Their MAT is based on the Massachusetts Collaborative Care Model adapted to telemedicine and providing a framework for licensed MAT providers. Ophelia is licensed to provide care in 36 states plus has national and regional insurance contracts covering 85 million lives, including bundled rates across Medicaid, Medicare and commercial populations. A second study presented at ASAM indicated that home-based buprenorphine inductions guided by telehealth are both feasible and well tolerated, with 90% of patients returning for one or more follow-up sessions and more than 80% met HEDIS engagement criteria. While OUD is statistically down among adults according to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, overdose fatalities have increased due to the deliberate contamination of opioids with fentanyl.  HealthcareITNews

Telehealth users aren’t doing in-person follow up for most specialties–is this good or bad? Epic Research’s original study noted that most telehealth appointments didn’t require an in-person follow-up appointment in the next 90 days. Their new study compares in-office visits to telehealth and finds pretty much the same. Follow-up rates for telehealth and office visits in primary care were within two percentage points of each other. The largest difference was in mental health care, the majority of telehealth currently, with 10% of telehealth visits and 40% of in-person visits having in-person follow-up within 90 days. Epic Research, Healthcare Dive

Telehealth utilization is down slightly but remains above 5%. FAIR Health’s monthly national survey of claims from private insurance and Medicare Advantage has telehealth declining from 5.6% to 5.3% (-5.36%). Mental health is again in the far lead with 68.4% of all diagnoses. A new breakout is asynchronous telehealth (store and forward) where acute respiratory diseases and infections lead with 21.6% of diagnoses with 12.6% related to hypertension in second place. Another new breakout is audio-only telehealth comparing urban and rural usage, both near or over 5%. FAIR also breaks out data by four regions. Becker’s

Some post-July 4th fireworks came with the announcement of a data breach at HCA Healthcare, one of the largest provider networks in the US. The hacking took place through an external storage location exclusively used to automate the formatting of email messages. The information up for sale by the unidentified hacker on a ‘deep web forum’ had some personally identifiable information (PII) including patient name, address information, emails, telephone numbers, date of birth, and gender. Some of the data posted included medical appointment dates and locations. The unidentified hacker (unusual) notified HCA on 4 July with a list of unidentified demands to be responded to by 10 July. It was flagged on Twitter by Brett Callow, an analyst at New Zealand-based Emsisoft. What wasn’t included was typical personal health information (PHI)–sensitive clinical information, payment information, or other PII such as driver’s license and Social Security numbers that can be cross-referenced with other hacked data. The sheer scope of the breach–reportedly 11 million records for patients across 24 states and 171 healthcare facilities, perhaps one of the largest breaches ever–while limited in harm to patients, is still going to create a big headache for HCA. CNBC, Becker’s, HealthcareITNews, DataBreaches.net

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