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The United States is currently fighting two epidemics. First, the global coronavirus pandemic that started in 2019 (COVID-19), which has led to 19.5 million cases globally and 720,000+ deaths to date. Of these, 4.9 million cases and 160,000 deaths were in the U.S. alone (CDC August 9, 2020 Situation Report #202).
Second, there’s the ongoing opioid epidemic, which leads to about 47,000 overdose deaths a year in the U.S. In all, more than 750,000 people have died from a drug overdose since 1999 (CDC overdose data).
For addiction treatment providers, the COVID-19 pandemic presents several problems:
Problem 1: OUD experiencers are at greater risk for COVID
People with opioid use disorders (OUD) and other substance use disorders (SUD) are more likely to be exposed to coronavirus. This is due to what the CDC calls social determinants of health. People who suffer from SUD are more likely to suffer from poverty, to be homeless, to work low level jobs, to use public transportation, and to otherwise be in scenarios that put them in close physical contact with others, increasing their likelihood of exposure to COVID. If they do show COVID symptoms, their coexisting disorder and these environmental factors can make their experience with COVID even worse.
Problem 2: the stress of one pandemic on the other
The coronavirus pandemic has put stress on nearly everyone, and not just from the health risk itself. People may have family members who have contracted the virus, they may have lost their jobs or had hours reduced, or they may just have anxiety for what the future holds. Regardless, for people with substance use disorders, the temptation to use is stronger than ever.
Problem 3: COVID disrupts addiction treatment
Social distancing has made it difficult for some people suffering from SUD to engage with their recovery communities like they were before. Many treatment centers have shut down and even if they’re still operating it’s often with a reduced staff and/or entirely remote. This makes it difficult for some people to get the treatment that they need and the right social support that is so important in recovery.
Solutions to Treating Addiction During the Coronavirus Pandemic
Continuing to provide addiction treatment during COVID-19 will be hard, but you have more resources than you might realize. First of all, make sure your organization has the financial resources to navigate the epidemic and keep serving your patient population. You may need to take advantage of SAMHSA grants or paycheck protection. Contact us if we can help you find the resources you need.
Next, stay connected – with your staff and with your clients/patients. Do your part to flatten the curve as your representatives advise, but that doesn’t mean the work stops. Using remote tools and automation will allow you to continue treating addiction during the coronavirus pandemic. Think of it as tackling two epidemics at once!
Wherever you can, consolidate software and subscriptions. Focus on digital health. How can I complete my clinical services and my timely billing in one system? This may be the perfect time to consider an all-in-one system instead of using two separate products. We want to help more individuals in need be served through smart technology solutions. With AZZLY® Rize™, our all-in-one EHR/PM/RCM solution specific to addiction treatment and behavioral health, utilize telemedicine, mobile payment, autoclaims, chargemaster, e-prescribing, outcome measurement tools, and more, all in one place. These are uncertain times, and maintaining a continuum of care is crucial. Our Integrated Care Pathways facilitate a patient’s whole journey, from intake and admissions to scheduling and documenting sessions to evaluating progress and adjusting treatment plans to claims and reimbursement. Our modern, comprehensive solution is necessary to manage the complexities of your organization during COVID and help you continue to treat your patients and grow your practice. We are all in this together.
Watch our CEO and Founder Coletta Dorado discuss AZZLY®’s mission in serving addiction treatment and behavioral healthcare specialists.
Fill out this brief form to get in touch with one of EHR and Billing Specialists for a discovery call, and we will email you some demos of AZZLY® Rize™. Contact us with any inquiries at firstname.lastname@example.org or (407) 255-2357.