Addiction Policy News

NWSAM Supports Expansion of Telehealth Services in North Dakota

February 11, 2021

 

On February 11, the Northwest Society of Addiction Medicine (NWSAM) sent a letter to legislators in support of SB2179, which would expand access to telehealth services in North Dakota. By expanding the definition of telehealth to include audio-only telephone if no other means of communications technology is available, and ensuring that services delivered through telehealth are covered and reimbursed as favorably as those services delivered in-person, SB2179 would dramatically boost access to addiction treatment.

 

The letter stressed the positive impact of access to telehealth for patient outcomes. Telehealth can allow for more frequent communication with a patient’s addiction care team, provide additional privacy, help address the stigma of receiving addiction treatment, give clinicians insight into patients’ personal lives, and possibly improve the therapeutic alliance. Furthermore, the cost savings associated with improved access to telehealth are also substantial, with one study finding that telehealth diverts patients from more expensive care settings.  This same study found that cost savings were sufficient to offset the additional utilization of healthcare services caused by the convenience and accessibility of telehealth to patients.

 

Read the letter here.

 

Read the bill here.