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Addiction Treatment for Expecting Moms Using Telehealth

Medical University of South Carolina makes access to care easier for moms-to-be who are being treated for opioid use disorder

For expecting moms who are in treatment for opioid use disorder, Medical University of South Carolina uses video visits in MyChart to provide OUD treatment alongside regular OB visits. This approach is not only convenient – it’s also important for reducing in-person visits and decreasing the potential for exposure to COVID-19 for moms like Sarah, a military veteran who struggled with OUD before becoming pregnant.

“We know that patients already need frequent visits for their pregnancies, and we want to help them continue any treatment they’re receiving for opioid use disorder without adding more trips to the clinic,” said Constance Guille, MD, a psychiatrist at MUSC and primary author of a related study.

When a patient like Sarah comes in for a prenatal care visit, her OB calls her psychiatrist using Epic, so she can check in about both her mental health, too. After the initial in-person visit, she can meet with her OB-GYN and psychiatrist over video, which saves her a trip to the doctor’s office.

“There’s still a lot of taboo about [getting OUD treatment while pregnant],” Sarah said. “I think a lot of us feel very alone.” In the United States, only 20% of pregnant women with OUD receive treatment and a coordinated approach like MUSC’s encourages open communication and regular care.

“Integrated, collaborative care, where obstetricians and psychiatrists can work together, is the ideal model for treatment,” Guille said. “Being able to maximize specialists’ reach to obstetric practices by telemedicine is a really great way to get women lifesaving treatment for this chronic disease and reduce maternal opioid overdose deaths.”

Read more about MUSC’s telehealth initiatives from Statehouse Report and read more about Sarah’s story from MUSC. Read the full study from JAMA Network Open.