Telemedicine and Addiction Treatment
Addiction continues to be a substantial issue in the U.S.
The growth of technology has made receiving treatment much more accessible to a large portion of the population.
Drug rehab centers like many other health facilities have evolved in their administration of treatment.
Telemedicine is an accessible, convenient, and cost-effective way of receiving healthcare services through telecommunication via electronic devices.
The means of communicating through electronic devices include smartphone applications and web-based services designed specifically for telemedicine.
Healthcare providers and patients to share information virtually and remotely.
This form of healthcare service has recently been used by drug rehab centers to provide addiction treatment.
This allows more people from rural areas to receive healthcare treatment, without having to commute to the nearest healthcare facility.
However, it is a new component of addiction treatment and is currently being evaluated for its effectiveness and efficiency compared to physical appointments.
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The Impact of Telemedicine in Addiction Treatment
A small percentage of all individuals with addiction seek professional treatment.
Some reasons for this include the possibility of he or she not wanting to get sober due to withdrawals or other personal reasons, social stigma, and not having access to the proper professional he or she needs.
Telemedicine has made it easier for many people to access the professional treatment they need, at their convenience, especially those in rural settings.
Becoming sober from addiction is a challenging process but seeking help can be easier to find and receive.
Addiction treatment is always a different experience for each individual.
It has been observed by healthcare professionals that telemedicine is also unique to the individual they are treating.
The effectiveness of telemedicine in addiction treatment appears to be positive, but extensive research is still needed for further analysis.
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How Does Telemedicine Work in Addiction Treatment?
Telemedicine works by attending appointments virtually via videoconferencing through secure portals on smartphones or personal computers. Many healthcare providers including drug rehab centers have their preferred smartphone application or web-based service. They use only applications and web-based services that comply with The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). Through these virtual appointments, clinicians and other healthcare professionals can provide therapy and interact with the individual. Many drug rehab centers offer 24-hour service 7 days a week, to be more flexible for their patients and in case of emergencies. There are several laws, regulations, and policies in place to protect the individual’s liberties, rights, and confidentiality. In many states, before this method of treatment can be used by an individual, the healthcare provider must obtain informed consent. Telemedicine is regulated by the American Medical Association (AMA) and The Federation of State Medical Boards (FSMB).
Virtual Worlds as a Form of Addiction Treatment Through Telemedicine
Some drug rehab centers and healthcare facilities utilize a form of therapy through virtual worlds. To access the virtual world, an individual must have access to a computer. A virtual world is a real-time virtual platform that is created through networked computers to provide a social environment where therapists and other individuals can interact with one another using avatars he or she creates. Avatars are a computer representation that the individual designs with the tools in the virtual world. An individual uses his or her avatar to interact within the virtual world. It has been observed by researchers that a virtual world can authentically simulate important features of the real world. This allows individuals the capacity to learn how to apply positive coping and life choices in the real world. In addiction treatment, virtual worlds are only accessible to individuals who have a specialized access code and a password. Some services offered within virtual worlds include individual and group counseling, presentations, and psychotherapy. The effectiveness of virtual worlds as a form of addiction treatment through telemedicine is still under evaluation by researchers. However, the results appear to be effective in addiction treatment.
Pros and Cons of Telemedicine in Addiction Treatment
- Convenience and Accessibility- Telemedicine offers individuals a chance to receive addiction treatment remotely from his or her home. All that is required is a smartphone or computer with access to the internet. There is no need to wait in an office for an appointment. You can sign on when you have a scheduled appointment and proceed accordingly.
- Cost-Effective- It is cost-effective to use telemedicine because it costs less than it would for a physical visit. The provider also saves costs by not having to utilize facilities and other overhead costs that a physical appointment would require.
- Encourages Responsibility- Telemedicine encourages individuals to engage with his or her therapist by having to sign in to his or her appointments virtually. This instills responsibility because it is an easy-to-follow routine and helps manage goals when the individual follows through with their appointment. Researchers have found that individuals using telemedicine have fewer missed appointments than those who have a physical appointment.
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- Need Stable Environment- Where an individual receives addiction treatment is important because he or she needs a peaceful, undistracted environment to get the most from the service. Not everyone who needs addiction treatment has safe and stable living conditions. Some individuals live in high-risk and unstable conditions.
- Need Computer Literacy- To use telemedicine, individuals must be computer literate. However, not everyone who requires addiction treatment is familiar with the operations of a computer or smartphone applications. Individuals who benefit most from telemedicine are those who live in rural areas. Computer literacy is the lowest among this population. This places many individuals at a disadvantage.
- May Not Be Covered by Insurance- Insurance may not cover all or any telemedicine costs. Some individuals are required to pay out of pocket instead of being able to use his or her insurance as he or she can with a physical appointment.
As technology continues to grow, new methods of providing treatment are emerging as well. Telemedicine is one of the first technologies in addiction treatment to see such rapid growth. For most, it is a convenient and cost-effective way to receive addiction treatment. But for others, it can present more barriers and challenges than a physical benefit. It is about finding what works best for an individual to obtain and maintain sobriety.
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Seeking treatment for your dependency is one of the bravest things you can do for yourself. Do not let your situation stop you from contacting Resurgence Behavioral Health. We provide honest and accurate pricing information for all of our treatment options. We offer free insurance verification. Call us today to see if you qualify.
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