Researchers receive $1.1 million NIH grant to implement a telehealth platform for opioid use disorder

Over the past two decades, drug overdose deaths in the U.S. have increased manifold, with over 70% of 2019 drug deaths attributable to opioids. Connecticut in particular is among the top 10 states with the highest rate of opioid-related overdose deaths in the country, with that number increasing by 285% from 2012 to 2020.

The National Institutes of Health has awarded a two-year, $1,147,508 grant to CUNY Graduate School of Public Health and Health Policy (CUNY SPH) Associate Professor Nasim Sabounchi and Yale School of Medicine Assistant Professor Rebekah Heckmann to test a new evidence-based intervention that links people who have overdosed with access to medication for opioid use disorder, harm reduction services and recovery supports.

Sabounchi, Heckmann, and colleagues will implement a comprehensive telehealth platform that can be deployed at the site of an overdose or in the emergency department with minimal time or effort by existing staff. The platform will provide real-time access to providers who prescribe medication for opioid use disorder and other harm reduction services for high-risk individuals and may remove many of the barriers to follow up that these individuals face.

The researchers will collect high-quality data about the processes and outcomes associated with deployment of this platform in Connecticut that can be integrated with their existing system dynamics model to determine how or whether interventions should be implemented more broadly in the future.

There is a great need to expedite and facilitate access to medication for opioid use disorder and respond effectively to witnessed overdoses. Our long-term goal is to implement these novel system dynamics modeling and telehealth strategies in Connecticut, with subsequent dissemination nationally, ultimately improving access to medication and reducing overdose events and fatalities."

Nasim Sabounchi, Associate Professor, CUNY SPH

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