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Written by: Lucy Connery MPH

Telemedicine Services

Telemedicine services improve access to treatment for individuals with opioid and substance use disorders (National Institutes of Health, 2023). The demand for telemedicine increased drastically due to the COVID-19 pandemic and has remained high due to the flexibility it offers to patients. As a result, MATTERS partners with several telemedicine agencies to offer rapid evaluations, medication prescriptions, and referrals to follow up treatment. Individuals with significant transportation barriers may also choose to follow up at a fully virtual treatment organization when referred through MATTERS.

MATTERS telemedicine services are accessible on the MATTERS website or mobile application. Telemedicine referrals can be made from anywhere using an electronic device. Individuals referred via telemedicine are offered the exact same resources as someone who was referred in person. Individuals with Medicaid or no insurance automatically receive a medication voucher to cover the cost of up-to 14 days of a buprenorphine prescription. Anyone who indicates they need transportation assistance receives a transportation voucher for a free, round-trip ride for their first clinic appointment. Additionally, individuals can opt-in to be referred to a peer support agency for follow-up; all of these services are available with no extra steps required.

Data from 2023

In 2023, MATTERS facilitated over 1,300 referrals to outpatient treatment. Of those referrals, about 55% came from telemedicine settings.  MATTERS partners with two virtual emergency departments at Erie County Medical Center and Kaleida Health to provide treatment and referrals for opioid and substance use disorders. These virtual emergency departments received an average of 185 calls related to opioid use disorder (OUD) each month in 2023 from across New York State.

MATTERS additionally partners with the Western New York (WNY) Addiction Treatment Hotline to link individuals with substance use disorder to long-term treatment. This service launched in June of 2022 and is available in eight counties across WNY. In 2023 alone, the hotline completed over 1,600 visits for substance use disorder. Over 80% of these calls resulted in linkage to a medication prescription. Access to medication is vital to treat the symptoms of substance use disorder and support overall success in recovery (Douaihy, Kelly, & Sullivan, 2013). Additionally, nearly 60% of these visits resulted in a MATTERS referral to treatment.

Linking individuals to treatment and resources for substance use disorder is important for harm reduction and overdose prevention. Telemedicine provides flexibility to individuals seeking treatment and improves access to care. Access telemedicine services by visiting or downloading the MATTERS Network mobile application on the App Store and Google Play.


Douaihy, A. B., Kelly, T. M., & Sullivan, C. (2013). Medications for substance use disorders. Social work in public health, 28(3-4), 264–278.

National Institutes of Health (2023). Telehealth supports retention in treatment for opioid use disorder: Federally funded study provides additional evidence supporting expanded use of telehealth services for opioid use disorder-related care. National Institute on Drug Abuse. Retrieved from: