Is it possible to see a Suboxone doctor over a video call for medication assisted treatment (MAT)?
Telemedicine has become a routine part of life during the COVID-19 pandemic. In a telehealth visit, a doctor meets with the patient in a video conference to provide medical treatment. A Suboxone telemedicine visit involves prescribing of the partial opioid agonist/opioid antagonist, buprenorphine, the main ingredient in Suboxone.
While many medical issues still require in-person treatment, buprenorphine/naloxone treatment is uniquely suited for telemedicine. In fact, telemedicine provides some key advantages over in-person clinic visits, especially in light of the opioid crisis.
What are the advantages of Suboxone telemedicine?
Privacy and confidentiality are major benefits of direct telemedicine visits for Suboxone treatment. When you speak to your doctor from the private location of your choosing, it is just you and the doctor. You do not have to encounter any strangers or office staff in and around the Suboxone clinic.
In most traditional addiction treatment and mental health care settings, patients wait together in a public waiting room. While HIPAA policies generally protect individual patient’s identities to some degree, nothing protects you from being seen by other people sitting across from you.
In some Suboxone clinic locations that provide full rehab services, group meetings and onsite counseling are a part of the program. How is your privacy protected in a group therapy setting? Do you really want to discuss your experience with controlled substances and opioid dependency in front of a group of strangers?
Imagine that you are a local politician and the campaign manager for your competitor is sitting across from you in a clinic group meeting? Who stands to lose more from the two of you seeing each other in a Suboxone or methadone clinic?
Does your online Suboxone doctor listen to what you have to say?
Often, your opioid addiction treatment benefits from the nature of telemedicine treatment. Rather than being in an exam room in the middle of a busy clinic with noise and distractions outside the door, you are engaged in a quiet, one-to-one, face-to-face meeting with your physician.
It is difficult, when in the clinic, to ignore the distractions going on around you. Your doctor or nurse practitioner will also have to struggle to avoid distractions. This is especially true when medical assistants, nurses, or administrative staff are barging into the room to ask questions or announce important phone calls.
There always seems to be pressure in the clinic setting to complete the medical visit. The clinic addiction medicine specialist is in high demand. There are people waiting on the phones and pressure from the office staff who want to clear the waiting room and get the patients moved through and out of the clinic.
Imagine how peaceful and calming it can be to have all the time you need to meet with your online Suboxone doctor. If the doctor schedules an hour for your visit, you have that entire hour with the doctor’s undivided attention. This is especially important for the new patient who wants to get past opioid dependence and substance abuse.
The focus is on your needs and your issues. You have time to think of questions and get all of your questions answered.
Another benefit of telemedicine treatment is the always availability of the online Suboxone doctor.
What do you do when you are two days into addiction treatment with Subutex or Suboxone and you start to have opioid cravings? Who can you call? Do you call the clinic and listen to a recorded message telling you to go to the emergency department?
Wouldn’t it be nice to have 24/7 access to your online Suboxone doctor? While the terms telemedicine and online seem to indicate distance, many patients feel that they are closer to their doctor with telemedicine.
I have many patients who enjoy having long discussions with me during our online visits. We sometimes speak for up to an hour, and sometimes longer. The visits are relaxed, with conversations about many topics, including addiction treatment, but also beyond the specifics of opioid addiction treatment.
While it may seem like I sometimes get off of the topic at hand while meeting with patients, I don’t see it that way. Learning about a patient’s life and interests is an important part of putting together a more complete picture of who they are and what their goals are in life.
Moving beyond drug addiction involves building a life that does not depend on the continued use of drugs. Over time, as I have conversations with patients, I start to see who they have the potential to become.
My goal is not to ask that they follow my vision of what I think they should do in life. It is more about discovering who they are as individuals and helping them to get back on track in life, working towards doing what they always dreamed of doing.
Of course, our calls always include discussions about medication side effects and withdrawal symptoms as well as plans for tapering. It is important to establish that the patient is stable on treatment without exhibiting signs of opiate addiction. Staying on track with Suboxone long-term is the best protection against relapse from addiction recovery and possible opioid overdose.
Concierge Suboxone telemedicine treatment means that your doctor is always there for you.
What if you need to reach your doctor for help right away? Or, maybe you just want to ask for support or share a positive experience.
Can you reach your doctor to communicate easily? Is it possible to arrange a voice or video call on short notice?
What if you go to the pharmacy and there is a problem with your prescription? Maybe they are out of Suboxone. Or, there is a new pharmacist on duty who has an issue with filling your prescription and wants to speak with your doctor.
I have been in line myself at a pharmacy and heard the conversations with patients in line with the pharmacist. Something has come up, and they need approval from the doctor. The pharmacist asks the patient to sit down and wait while they contact the clinic.
When I see the patient go to take a seat, I feel a bit bad for them because I have worked in a busy medical clinic in the past and I know how the process usually works. The pharmacist will put in a call to the office or send a fax, and then wait for a response.
Many medical practices put up barriers .
There are barriers between the doctor and outside distractions, such as patients calling, or pharmacists trying to get in touch with the doctor. Very likely, someone will take the message and send it to the doctor at some point and the doctor will have that message to return in a pile on their desk.
How long does that process usually take? Unfortunately, the process of getting a message from the pharmacist to the doctor’s attention may take hours, or even days. The patient who goes to sit and wait has no idea that there will be no doctor calling back anytime soon.
I have sometimes felt like raising my hand and speaking out while in line. “I’m a doctor. Is there anything I can do to help?” Of course, I keep my mouth shut because it would be inappropriate and unprofessional to offer medical services at the pharmacy counter.
What happens when there is a pharmacy issue for a patient who has a concierge telemedicine Suboxone doctor?
I can tell you what happens when my patients are in that situation. When the pharmacist asks the patient to go sit down, they go sit down and then call me.
They inform me of the situation, so I can call and speak to the pharmacist immediately. Pharmacists are often surprised to hear from me so quickly, but they are often pleased as well to resolve the issue quickly and help the patient to go along on their way.
Insurance company problems also come up, and they can be extremely frustrating if not handled properly. It seems like health insurance plans are set up to cause serious stress for their customers, with the intent to get them to give up in fighting to have their medical care covered.
One piece of advice I can give you here about dealing with your health plan is that calling and arguing with them on the phone will almost never get you anywhere. It is important to carefully read the rules of how they work and contact them in writing.
What about Suboxone telemedicine and fast prior authorizations?
While our practice does not currently accept insurance, I still regularly deal with prior authorizations to get prescription plans to pay for medication. In the past, I have had frustrated patients call me, almost to the point of tears, telling me how they fought on the phone for hours with their insurance company.
After being transferred from one rep to another, and being told that their doctor must also call in and fill out forms, the patient is exhausted and ready to give up. Fortunately, when my patients let me know that they need help with a prior authorization, I know how to get them to go through in most cases, with no stress on the part of the patient.
Again, like in the pharmacy, rather than waiting, my patients know to call me to ask if I can help. Often, I am able to quickly submit the information needed and get approvals within a short time, in some cases approvals come through within minutes.
I am always happy to help my patients to overcome these minor annoyances in the sometimes dysfunctional US healthcare system. And, I am available for other issues as well. Sometimes a patient has a concern about treatment and wants to ask a question.
Why wait for hours of days to ask your doctor questions or to ask for support during a difficult time? Many patients are reluctant to reach out to their doctor between appointments. They might be worried that the doctor will be angry for being disturbed for a non-emergency.
My philosophy is that a doctor should be easily available so that patients can reach out easily at any time. There is no reason why a patient should have difficulty getting through to their doctor.
Privacy, confidentiality, compassion, caring, and accessibility are the keys to ideal online Suboxone care.
It’s not easy to adjust to a life of recovery. When you start Suboxone after quitting opioids, everything changes. You start to feel normal again and you are ready to work and spend time with your family with a clear head and no cravings or sickness.
When you have questions about your overall treatment plan and what happens next, you want to know that you can get through to your doctor to talk things through. Having access is critical as well as knowing that your doctor will be willing and able to listen to how you are feeling and offer useful guidance.
What about when I am ready to finish taking Suboxone?
When patients start a Suboxone program, they are overwhelmed with relief, discovering that there is something that works to help them overcome opioid addiction. It can seem almost miraculous. Yet, many patients want to know from the beginning how soon they will be finished with treatment.
As a general rule, I recommend at least one year of treatment. Top addiction specialists agree on this point, stating that for the best long-term results, patients should continue Suboxone for at least a year, and sometimes longer.
One issue that patients have with their clinic is that there does not seem to be an end goal. There is no definite plan of completing treatment. The plan does not have to necessarily be a fixed and unwavering predetermined plan of tapering Suboxone.
In fact, it may be enough to state that there is a plan of reducing and completing treatment when the patient is ready for it. Yet, many clinics continue patients month to month without any intention of patients reducing or discontinuing Suboxone.
A concierge Suboxone doctor will have a plan to help you to taper and stop taking Suboxone when the time is right. Your telemedicine appointments will include discussions of the best way to start cutting back on Suboxone. And, your doctor will be available if you have any difficulty in reducing your dosage and need help to know what to do next.
Concierge telemedicine Suboxone care is an excellent way to get top-notch care from start to finish.
From the beginning, your doctor is there for you to help you through the early transition from opioids to Suboxone. During treatment, your doctor is there to provide encouragement and support.
Ideally, it should be just as easy to call and talk to your doctor as it is to talk to a close family member. I have even heard one concierge doctor describe his service as being like you have a doctor in the family.
There are different options available for obtaining Suboxone treatment today. There are daily clinics where patients line up at a window to get their daily dose with daily drug testing. And, there are busy clinics with people waiting to be called in to see the doctor.
While it is important to have different options and it is important that Suboxone care is available to the people who need it, especially to address the ongoing opioid epidemic, old-fashioned clinic treatment may not be the best way to get buprenorphine treatment these days. If you like the idea of being able to see your doctor from the comfort and privacy of your own home, consider telemedicine online Suboxone treatment.
If you also want to make sure that you have a doctor who is there for you at every monthly visit and any time in between, consider seeing a concierge telemedicine Suboxone doctor. Wouldn’t you like to have 24/7 access to a doctor who knows you and is ready to help you to have the best addiction treatment experience possible?