Designing and Evaluating COVID-19 Protocols for an Office-Based Opioid Treatment Program in an Urban Underserved Setting.

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Despite changing federal regulations for providing telehealth services and provision of controlled substances during the COVID-19 pandemic, there is little guidance available for office-based opioid treatment (OBOT) programs integrated into primary care settings.(1) Develop disaster-preparedness protocols specific to the COVID-19 pandemic for an urban OBOT program, and (2) evaluate the impacts of the protocol and telehealth on care.Disaster-preparedness protocols specific to the COVID-19 pandemic were developed for an urban OBOT program, implemented on March 16, 2020. Retrospective chart review compared patients from January 1, 2020 to March 13, 2020, to patients from March 16, 2020 to April 30, 2020, abstracting patient demographics and comparing show and no-show rates between studied groups.The disaster-preparedness protocol was developed under a deliberative process to address social issues of the urban underserved population. Of 852 visits conducted between Jan 1, 2020, and April 30, 2020, a 91.7% show rate (n = 166/181) was documented for telemedicine visits after protocol implementation compared with a 74.1% show rate (n = 497/671) for routine in-person care (P = .06) without significant differences between the study populations. The no-show rate was significantly lower after protocol implementation (8.3% vs 25.9%; P <0.05).OBOTs require organized workflows to continue to provide services during the COVID-19 pandemic. Telemedicine, in the face of relaxed federal regulations, has the opportunity to enhance addiction care, creating a more convenient as well as an equally effective mechanism for OBOTs to deliver care that should inform future policy.

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Authors: David T O’Gurek