Telehealth is the use of technology to provide health services, care coordination, and monitoring when a patient and provider are not in the same location. Current literature supports the use of telehealth to provide behavioral therapy, and a small number of studies show that using it for prescribing and management in medication-assisted treatment (MAT) delivers the same kind of results as in-person care.
While there has been great interest in using telehealth to deliver MAT, policy barriers at the federal and state level have impeded its use, especially for Californians seeking MAT services in Medi-Cal.
This paper, Opportunities and Challenges to Utilizing Telehealth Technologies in the Provision of Medication-Assisted Therapies in the Medi-Cal Program (PDF) analyzes roadblocks to using telehealth and provides recommendations to help facilitate greater access to MAT in California through these innovative systems.
Key recommendations for the state include:
- Clarify California telehealth law to define “appropriate examination” as including live video, with the patient in their home or the community, including remote prescribing.
- Ensure consistent Medi-Cal policies across all programs and modernize regulations to meet current telehealth models and access demands.
- Address geographic barriers by creating a statewide reciprocity solution that allows patients who move to new counties to access MAT without delay.
For an overview of the developing but nascent landscape of organizations offering telehealth MAT, please see Telehealth MAT, part of CHCF’s Innovation Landscape Series.