Provider and administrator attitudes and experiences with implementing telebuprenorphine during the COVID-19 pandemic: a mixed-methods survey

Babak Tofighi, Rosalina Lopez, Gabriela Araujo, Joshua D. Lee, Elizabeth A. Samuels, Rachel S. Wightman, Jenna Butner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Introduction: This mixed-methods study assessed buprenorphine provider and administrator perceptions and experiences in offering telebuprenorphine during the COVID-19 pandemic. Methods: Semi-structured interviews were conducted between June 2021 and September 2021 among telebuprenorphine providers and administrators (N = 16) and assessed for program design and implementation strategies, clinical workflow, patient-level factors influencing program entry and retention, and challenges and solutions to improving clinical care. Results: Clinician (n = 15) and administrator (n = 1) participants identified changes to clinical workflow, including increased administrative tasks to confirm patient receipt of prescribed medications, completion of referrals to community- or specialty treatment, and locating available pharmacies and laboratory services. Challenges consisted of staff redeployment to COVID-19 related responsibilities, prior authorization requirements for buprenorphine prescriptions, billing structures that under-reimbursed for telephone or video visits, and concerns with changes in government regulations. Strategies to improving telebuprenorphine included offering “hotlines” to facilitate same-day visits, expanding between-visit support, establishing workflows with community pharmacies to ensure seamless dispensing of buprenorphine, co-location of behavioral health providers, and distributing donated mobile phones to patients. Suggested technologies for enhancing care included text messaging (75%) and smartphone applications (56.3%). Conclusions: Findings from this study highlight considerable heterogeneity in the delivery of telebuprenorphine services.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)347-353
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Substance Use
Volume29
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - 2024

Keywords

  • Buprenorphine
  • COVID-19
  • opioid use disorder
  • telemedicine

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Medicine (miscellaneous)

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