Telemedicine to Expand OUD Treatment

The University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) received a grant for $500,000 from the Alabama Department of Mental Health (ADMH), to expand Opioid Use Disorder (OUD) treatment services.

UAB is launching a pilot program to use telemedicine in three rural counties to get more opioid users into treatment. The plan is to use Alabama One Health Record ®, a statewide health information exchange, to track outcomes in the patients.

“Since 2014, Alabama has led the nation with the highest rate of opioid prescriptions in the country with a corresponding high incidence of OUD,” said Erik Hess, M.D Interim Chair of the UAB Department of Emergency Medicine.

“Patients in rural areas with OUD have very limited access to MAT”, said John Waits, M.D., CEO of Cahaba Medical Care “This is a population that is likely to be uninsured, have limited resources, and limited access to all aspects of the healthcare system particularly related to substance abuse.”

UAB is partnering with East Alabama Medical Center and Cahaba Medical Care. The program will modify the Vermont hub-and-spoke model, by having specialists at the UAB treatment hub to provide education and training to primary care and emergency clinicians practicing in the target counties.

The grant will allow for the development of a clinical informatics system via Alabama One Health Record designed to improve the quality and efficiency of healthcare delivery in the state through the electronic exchange of health record information

According to Sue Feldman Ph.D., Associate Professor in the Department of Health Services Administration, “This will help to identify patients with OUD who are receiving emergency department or inpatient care at UAB that may benefit from MAT and be referred to longitudinal addiction care.”

Dr Hess reports, “Ultimately, we want to get the physicians at the point of care especially in rural Alabama, comfortable with prescribing MAT and actively using it. This project will provide telemedicine support and addiction medicine expertise to primary care and emergency clinicians.”


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