Video, Telephone, and In-Person Buprenorphine Treatment for OUD During the Pandemic.

  A study of 17,182 patients from the Veterans Health Administration sought to determine if patient characteristics – age, race/ethnicity, comorbidities, housing status – made a difference in the effectiveness of telehealth-delivered buprenorphine for opioid use disorder (OUD).  Effectiveness was determined by 90-day retention; three different telehealth modalities were examined, with each patient receiving at least one video visit, at least one telephone visit but no video, or only in-person.  The study was conducted from March 23, 2020, to March 22, 2021, when policy shifted to allow greater use of telehealth to deliver a potentially lifesaving medication for OUD.  Results showed significantly higher retention for patients using telehealth versus in-person visits, with higher retention observed in those with video visits. But patient characteristics made a difference in the type of telehealth used, and subsequently their retention in treatment.  Among patients who received telehealth, those who were older, male, Black, non–service-connected, or experiencing homelessness and/or housing instability were less likely to have video visits.