Throughout the course of the COVID-19 pandemic, telehealth has become a staple in the American healthcare system, whether for a child’s common cold or an adult’s chronic knee pain. Its versatility and dependability have made telehealth a hallmark of pandemic healthcare. But as we approach our post-pandemic “new normal,” it’s time to decide on telehealth’s role in this new era of healthcare. To do so, we need to identify opportunities where we can leverage telehealth to improve care, expand access, and reduce costs. Behavioral Healthcare is a great place to start.
A growing need for telehealth in behavioral healthcare
The COVID-19 pandemic has greatly exacerbated the mental health crisis in the U.S. As of January 2021, more than 40% of adults self-reported feeling symptoms of anxiety and depression. That number was just 10% in the months from January to June 2019. Stress from job loss, fear of being infected, loss of a loved one, and social isolation exacerbated what was already a growing epidemic.
“The average time between the onset of behavioral health symptoms and getting care can range from eight to ten years.“
While not every area of healthcare can be conducted virtually, telehealth’s potential to aid mental health care is limitless. In fact, telemedicine services have already been used within the behavioral healthcare sphere; as of January 2021, 57% of substance use disorder (SUD) treatment facilities and 68% of outpatient mental health facilities were offering telehealth services. But we still have a long way to go to meet the growing epidemic, one that won’t just go away once the pandemic has truly disappeared.
Fortunately, the need is being addressed at the very highest levels of our government by the Biden administration, which has created a new national mental health strategy to “strengthen system capacity, connect more Americans to care, and create a continuum of support—transforming or health and social services infrastructure to address mental health holistically and equitably.”Of the many initiatives included in the plan is the expanded use of telehealth and virtual care options.
The benefits of telehealth for behavioral healthcare
The greatest benefit of telemedicine in behavioral healthcare is that it enables more patients to gain access to care through convenient and discreet appointments. It can be challenging for patients to prioritize their mental health for many reasons, including social stigma, lack of providers in their area, requesting time off of work, or finding childcare. Telemedicine can eliminate these obstacles by bringing care to the individual when and where it’s most convenient for them.
Another benefit of behavioral health telemedicine is that it provides a more intimate environment that helps build trust between the patient and the provider. This is crucial to the successful treatment of mental health conditions.
- Improves convenience for both patients and providers
- Removes barriers to transportation and social obstacles
- Expands access
- Provides greater privacy
- Increases patient satisfaction
- Reduces no-shows, late arrivals, cancellations, and associated costs
- Increases ability to reach more patients without adding overhead
The time to act is now
Behavioral healthcare does not have to come with innumerable burdens; telemedicine is the solution. It’s time to start utilizing it to its full potential by making behavioral healthcare a priority going forward. The best place to begin is by partnering with telemedicine technology providers with deep industry expertise in the behavioral health space. VidyoHealth is that partner.
VidyoHealth provides a state-of-the-art video conferencing platform with unmatched quality, security and reliability. With no apps to download, it’s also easy to use for both providers and their patients. Providers and patients can connect with a single click over any device, network, or browser.
VidyoHealth requires no technological investments, making it easy to get started. Providers can choose the deployment solution that works best for their unique requirements.
- On-premise for the highest level of control over traffic, CDRs, and network access
- Private cloud through Google Cloud Platform or Amazon Web Services
- Hybrid cloud for continuous bandwidth optimization
- Multitenant cloud for easy deployment, vast scalability, silent upgrades, and proactive monitoring
While the government is working to address the behavioral healthcare needs of our country, providers can make a difference starting today. Learn more here.