Physician Response to COVID-19–Driven Telehealth Flexibility for Opioid Use Disorder
A July 2020 survey of more than a thousand physicians who provided treatment for opioid use disorder (OUD) showed that many used telehealth for the first time during the pandemic, when regulations were loosened. More than half of respondents, 54 percent, found it more effective than expected. A significant majority – 85 percent – were in favor of the temporary telehealth flexibility being permanently extended. Many surveyed physicians used telehealth for the first time during the early COVID-19 era (29% pre–COVID-19 use rate increased to 66%). Most respondents found telehealth to be more effective than expected (54% vs 16% who found it less effective), 85% were in favor of the temporary telehealth flexibility being permanently extended, and 77% would be likely to use telehealth after the COVID-19 pandemic, regulations permitting. Imputation exercises that leverage the linked survey and administrative data suggest that the findings are unlikely to be driven by nonrandom survey participation.