A national medical organization’s focus group on the opioid epidemic issued a list of policies and procedures Friday to protect the health of substance use disorder patients in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The National Academy of Medicine’s (NAM) Action Collaborative on Countering the U.S. Opioid Epidemic said the COVID-19 pandemic is exacerbating ongoing public health emergencies, like the addiction crisis, in America. In an effort to address how best to support patients with substance use disorders, opioid use disorders and chronic pain, the group released a list of steps to be taken by healthcare providers, health systems, researchers, policy makers, regulators and health leaders to take.
Key elements of the plan include: planning on deliberate evaluations of implementation and response strategies and policies enacted during COVID-19; using telehealth to support the needs of patients with SUDs or chronic pain during COVID-19 and beyond; maintaining high-quality care for patients with pain; addressing research, data and surveillance needs while enhancing reporting; and monitoring and taking steps to prevent a rise in SUDs or overdoses.
The group also suggested reinforcing safety net programs that protect high-risk populations by ensuring that individuals with SUDs have access to stable housing by working with local hotels, motels, and shelters and deploying mobile medical clinics in order to get care to individuals with SUDs who may be experiencing homelessness.