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Currently, Devereaux said, the nearest physician who can prescribe suboxone is 30 miles away.But many patients in need have limited means, so cars and gas are viewed as luxuries.Wanda Filer, board chair and former president of the American Academy of Family Physicians, and a practicing doctor in York, Pa.“These patients require a substantial amount of resources,” she said.Both the prescribing and monitoring of those medications have “to be done face to face, by a physician who has been licensed [by the Drug Enforcement Administration]. One idea UVA is considering is to set up “regional centers” where patients can go for medications as they wean themselves from opioids.Thomas Milam, the interim director of psychiatry and behavioral health at Carilion Clinic, is based in Roanoke, Va.For starters, the meds needed to treat opioid addiction require complex in-person procedures and regular follow-up, limiting what can be done remotely, said Dr.
Managing an opioid abuse patient’s suboxone regimen absorbs time for doctors who are already spread thin, said Dr.Even if insurance plans cover the treatment, many people don’t have coverage.That puts a strain on patients and limits what hospitals can do.Almost 600 people across the state died from prescription opioid overdoses between the start of 2015 and last March, according to the state medical examiner’s office. A pair of little-known addiction treatment programs are one country over — although more than 24 miles from Pearisburg, where the Giles County mental health clinic offers only basic counseling and child psychiatry.With no closer option for adult psychiatry, some local physicians have turned to telemedicine.
Though he refused to prescribe more, Devereaux worries that the man is still getting the drugs and has not recognized his problem or gotten treatment for his addiction. “The mental health issues aren’t going to go away.” But some health professionals as well as the federal government think they may have a possible solution: using telemedicine to connect patients in need by video chat with faraway physicians who know how to treat addiction.