Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan has launched a telehealth program to offer members a way to get initial medical assessments, vital sign checks, social and group therapy, and undergo treatment at home.
"Our program meets people where they live. By treating substance use disorder patients at home using secure telehealth technology, we also look at ways to help bring the family into the treatment process and treat the whole person," said William Beecroft, Blue Cross' medical director for behavioral health, in a statement. "We may find this approach could change the status quo for substance use disorder treatment in the future."
Blue Cross' telehealth programs will also include multiple check-ins with doctors, nursing and social workers throughout the day, virtual group therapy, psychotherapy sessions and medication-assisted or facilitated treatment.
Patients are also connected to online meetings provided by Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous.
Mental health experts say substance abuse treatment and services are very important to access during the COVID-19 pandemic as patients seek care and support.
Substance use disorder is a disease that affects a person's brain and behavior and makes the individual lose control of their use of a substance. Substances can be legal — like alcohol, nicotine or prescription opioid painkillers — or illegal, like heroin or illicitly obtained medication.
Many people with substance use disorder have underlying health conditions, including heart disease and liver diseases, that put them at higher risk of problems in the detoxification process and these factors need to be weighed against the risk of severe illness from potential exposure to COVID-19.
For more information, Blue Cross and Blue Care Network members should call the phone numbers at the back of their membership identification cars.
Blue Cross is a not-for-profit mutual insurance company with more than 4.7 million members in Michigan.
This article was originally published in Crain's Detroit Business.