NIH National Library of Medicine: Initiating Opioid Use Disorder Medication via Telemedicine During COVID-19: Implications for Proposed Reforms to the Ryan Haight Act

The Ryan Haight Act generally requires a clinician to conduct an in-person visit before prescribing an opioid use disorder (OUD) medication. During the COVID-19 pandemic, beginning March 16, 2020, the requirement was temporarily waived. A national survey of clinician’s comfort level with using video for new patient visits with OUD in fall 2020 found approximately 25% used telemedicine for most initiations while 40% used only in-person visits. The majority (55.8%) expressed at least some discomfort with using telemedicine for treating new OUD patients, although clinicians with more OUD patients were less likely to express such discomfort. Findings suggest that a permanent relaxation of the Ryan Haight requirement may not result in widespread adoption of telemedicine for OUD medication initiation without additional supports or incentives.

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