Connectivity During a Time of COVID and Crisis

Connectivity During a Time of COVID and Crisis

Hopefully you have read our last blog (Tele-Medicine vs. Tele-Behavioral Health), so you understand more about Apportis’s tele-behavioral health platform. We have all had good and bad days that come and go, but there is no reason why a serious long-term mental illness should be left unaddressed. It is no secret that the pandemic has been difficult for everyone. Most of us have experienced isolation, loss, depression, anxiety and even panic and regret. I, too, have felt these hardships, so it is important to know that we are not alone in those feelings.

That is why our Apportis team is dedicated to providing software to agencies that deliver social services and behavioral health. Our platform is easily accessible whether you are a student struggling at home, a farmer experiencing difficulties in your rural community, a homeless individual without a warm shelter, etc. There are no bounds to our efforts to connect with agencies that can help those in need.

Let me provide you with an example of how easily our platform connects people with the services they need:

Older individuals in our population are especially vulnerable during these times of crisis, so many are relying on virtual healthcare and means of communication. An older individual in need of behavioral healthcare can easily be connected with a tele-behavioral health professional through an agency or organization of their choice who utilizes Apportis’s software. They can then receive help from the safety of their own home. This also means they can avoid physical contact with possible infections, including COVID-19, that are spread throughout hospitals and doctors’ offices. Aside from COVID-19, they can also get help safely by avoiding the icy roads and sidewalks that come with winter weather.

That is just one example of who Apportis’s platform can serve. As a college student, it comforts me to know that any university can use Apportis’s software for their students and faculty. I understand the stressful demands that come with earning a college degree, so I encourage universities to utilize our behavioral health resource to care for their students’ health and wellness.

The need for tele-behavioral health has grown exponentially since the development of the COVID-19 Pandemic. Apportis is here to tailor our software platform so that agencies can meet the specific needs of those they serve, including you!

Peer Recovery Specialists Help Doctors Get Patients Into Addiction Treatment …

As the Opioid Crisis continues to ravage our country, more and more individuals are in need of treatment for substance use disorder (SUD). Addiction has saturated every community and demographic throughout the US, however there are still barriers to receiving effective treatment for this disease. One hospital in Philadelphia, Penn Presbyterian, has turned to an unconventional way of getting more SUD patients into treatment: ‘certified recovery specialists.’

These are licensed medical professionals, who once battled through the horrors of addiction, and won. Nevertheless, these peer-support personnel understand the long journey to overcoming SUD, which for some often takes decades. Their unique perspective as a peer hurdles a common barrier to treatment, the stigma of addiction. At Presbyterian the recovery specialists work in the ER, and because they have firsthand experience they appeal to those hospitalized from drug use to seek medically necessary treatment.

Recovery specialists have a unique lens to addiction medicine and understand that not everyone is ready and willing to make a change. Often times the best course is to educate about harm reduction and treatment options for when that moment of readiness comes. This is why we’ve created the ‘Get Help Now Foundation’ which seeks to develop and fund peer supporter certification, wages, and health insurance for those seeking to make a difference in their community.

To read the full article about Penn Presbyterian click on the following link:

Senator Portman Highlights Progress on Combating Opioid Crisis …

Today Congressman Rob Portman spoke on the Senate Floor to provide some insight how Ohio has been fighting the Opioid Epidemic. There was an overwhelming progressive tone as he stressed the need to go forward and continue to build on the strides that have been made. He acknowledged how Ohio leads the country in reducing overdose deaths, which were down 22% in 2018. Senator Portman attributed this to bipartisan legislation which has allocated $4 billion of federal funding to innovative projects back home.

For example, the Rapid Response Emergency Addiction and Crisis Team (RREACT) in Columbus, OH received grant monies from the CARA Act, and has begun to have a positive impact the community. First responders noticed that they would often have to administer naloxone, the OD reversal drug, to the same user time and time again, with little to no follow-up. Herein lies the conception of the RREACT team, a group of law enforcement, EMS, social workers and treatment providers who visit the home of someone who has just overdosed. They implore the substance user to get into treatment while they are in this vulnerable state, and surprisingly have an 80% success rate.

This testimony provides an excellent example of how the Apportis Opioid Solution (AOS) can be used to fight the crisis in our state. At the suggestion of Dr. Justin Trevino, Medical Director of Ohio Mental Health & Addiction Services, AOS will be utilized in smaller communities who do not have the resources for these rapid response teams. As Senator Portman suggested, Apportis will continue to work to “close the gaps” in the Opioid Crisis in Ohio!

Here’s a link to the full video:

Ted Talk Tuesday: Defining and Defeating the Opioid Crisis

This Ted Talk by Manal Fakhoury is about how to conceptualize the opioid crisis in terms of how we should feel about people addicted to opioids. Instead of negative judgments concerning laziness or lack of will power, Fakhoury suggests that we should actively use our sympathy when confronted with the drug addict. Thinking of the epidemic in terms of a wider problem instead of bad choices made by individuals can help us productively face the crisis.

Your introduction to the opioid crisis …

What is an opioid?

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, “Opioids are a class of drugs that include the illegal drug heroin, synthetic opioids such as fentanyl, and pain relievers available legally by prescription, such as oxycodone (OxyContin®), hydrocodone (Vicodin®), codeine, morphine, and many others.”

Are they all illegal?

No—a doctor may prescribe an opioid as a form of painkiller for a patient. However, abusing prescribed drugs is illegal. Frequently in the opioid crisis, a person is originally prescribed a kind of opioid for pain management, and that person then becomes addicted. That person then might abuse their prescription or seek other forms of opioids, such as heroine, which is always illegal.

The National Institute on Drug Abuse says that “Opioid pain relievers are generally safe when taken for a short time and as prescribed by a doctor, but because they produce euphoria in addition to pain relief, they can be misused (taken in a different way or in a larger quantity than prescribed, or taken without a doctor’s prescription). Regular use—even as prescribed by a doctor—can lead to dependence, and, when misused, opioid pain relievers can lead to addiction, overdose incidents, and deaths.”

How bad is the opioid crisis?

As of March 2018, 115 people die every single day in the United States from overdosing on opioids. Besides the toll this crisis takes on individuals and their families, there is also a hefty economic burden associated with the crisis. This includes “the cost of healthcare, lost productivity, addiction treatment, and criminal justice involvement.” The cost of this burden is $78.5 billion a year.

The opioid crisis has done serious damage to not only families all across America, but to towns and cities all across the country.

How did the opioid crisis begin?

The opioid crisis began within the pharmaceutical industry. According to the National Institute, “In the late 1990s, pharmaceutical companies reassured the medical community that patients would not become addicted to prescription opioid pain relievers, and healthcare providers began to prescribe them at greater rates. This subsequently led to widespread diversion and misuse of these medications before it became clear that these medications could indeed become highly addictive.” This means that opioids were prescribed frequently by doctors to people who were simply seeking pain relief, but often over prescribed these patients. The patient might take more opioids than they needed in order to safely manage their pain, or they might have excess pills which could be given to someone else. Nevertheless, even taking the prescribed amount of opioids could easily lead to a serious addiction.

A disturbingly high amount of people who use illegal forms of opioids had their start with abusing opioids approved by the FDA: “About 80 percent of people who use heroin first misused prescription opioids.”

What are specific challenges facing the opioid crisis?

One of the foremost challenges facing the opioid crisis is the sheer gravity of it. According to this Vox article, about 2.1 million people in America are abusing or addicted to opioids. And 2.1 million is considered to be an extremely conservative estimate.

The vast nature of the opioid crisis is one problem. The tools we have to confront this crisis is a whole other problem. For one thing, Americans have a long history of not being very sympathetic to drug users. This general feeling that drug abuse is a personal problem, and not a problem that a community must face together, has violent consequences. Vox writer German Lopez writes, “Experts attribute this apathy to stigma: While doctors and experts know addiction is a medical condition, much of the public views it more as a moral failure.”

In the face of a crisis that has gained so much strength because of the failure of not one but several systems, it is not enough to blame addiction and overdoses on the moral ineptitude of, at a very minimum, 2.1 million Americans.

What can we do?

Americans need greater access to the help they need in order to overcome their addiction to opioids. That means greater access to medication-assisted treatments, the leading treatment in the opioid crisis. However, accessibility to treatment is a serious obstacle in rural and poverty-stricken areas, where the opioid crisis has hit hard, and where medical professionals are lacking.

That’s why Apportis is working with the state of Ohio to bring medication-assisted treatment to people who need it. Through kiosks placed at clinics, hospitals, and homeless shelters, people can seek treatment by getting ePrescribed and counseled by fully-trained medical professionals.

At this time in our country, and in our state, we need effective, accessible healthcare that can truly make a difference in people’s lives.

Apportis is uniquely positioned to provide just that—and we are up to the challenge.