Behavioral health embraces technology to enhance healthcare outcomes
Telehealth and remote health monitoring system, provide care and consultation from the best providers. They can also give access to care where ever and whenever its needed. It can be accessed through laptops, smartphones or tablets as compared to doctor’s clinic settings. Telehealth provides just the perfect solution to people struggling with sensitive feelings and who need to be heard at the right time.
Challenges of providing mental health care:
For patients who deal with multiple health issues, like patients suffering from hypertension and depression, having a one point of access to healthcare solutions can improve outcomes through better care coordination.
Michael Porter, the Harvard professor mentioned in his paper on “Value-Based Mental Health Care Delivery” mentions that value is the singular goal that can unite interests of all healthcare stakeholder. This is possible through telehealth software. Infact, mental illness has to be managed, instead of treating it as a brief episode that can be cured. So, if mental illness has to be treated on a continuous basis, providers need to be in touch with patients on a regular basis – continuous monitoring and communicating with the patient is an imperative
People suffering from mental illness struggle with not only emotional challenges, but often struggle to get care. Mental illness affects 1 in 5 people or 43 million Americans and the number is growing. These people will benefit from behavioral health counselling, support and behavioral health engagement. But their needs aren’t met due to shortage of mental health professionals. U.S. Health Resources and Services Administration, notes that the nation has to add 10,000 mental health professionals by the year 2025 to meet the growing demand.
Mental health patients suffer from multiple chronic conditions, substance abuse or at times suicidal tendencies. If they need to heal, they should have an access to extensive medical care and support, which is possible through telehealth software and telehealth.
Telehealth; A solution to the mental health challenges:
This imbalance between the present number of mental health providers vis-à-vis mental health sufferers implies that patients have to wait for initial consultation and diagnosis. The wait time for follow up care is also long. Telehealth and remote health monitoring system can provide the solution to this impending challenge. It can provide immediate care for patients who need attention and improve patient-provider communication.
When mental health providers aren’t available in-person and patients cannot reach the provider’s clinic, telehealth provides an answer regardless of the distance between providers and patients.
Psychiatric patients who cannot visit providers due to health challenges, lack of reliable transportation or cannot take time off from work, result in ‘no-shows’. For such patients, telehealth along with caregivers can provide access to care in the comfort of their home or even office. Patients don’t have to stress over the fact that they need to reach the clinic or hospital to get consultation. Sometimes it is just that the patients are not able to get up from their bed or move from their homes. In such cases telehealth and telehealth software can extend care where absolutely no care is possible.
Also, psychiatric patients being in touch with providers on daily basis can lead to better healthcare outcomes. Patients would also find it easier to disclose details over a video screening as compared to traditional clinic setting.
In some cases, it could happen that patients are able to access in-person care as their health permits to do so. But, at times their health might pose a challenge to travel to the clinic. In such circumstances there can be a gap in the treatment, which can worsen their mental health. This gap in treatment can aggravate the situation and the patient might end up in a worse condition than before. Thus, treatment and recovery also take time. Telehealth or any type of patient engagement software is a blessing in such cases- right care at the right time is what telehealth can provide in such crucial times.
Patients through telemedicine can get immediate access to care and can avoid in-office distractions and shorter appointment times. It extends care to patients who cannot reach the clinic. Telemental healthcare as its often referred to is inexpensive as it uses technology to provide care and it can be highly beneficial to isolated communities.
But, behavioral health providers don’t use telehealth as much as primary care providers. With telehealth, consultation is easily accessible to patients living in remote areas and those who cannot reach the clinic or hospital due to their age or they face severe health challenges.
Mental telehealth augments and improves care management for mental health patients and improves patient-provider communication. Continuous care goes beyond the time bound treatment tradition of meeting patients once a week or month. Patient engagement software can also provide the much-needed support to patients.
When mental illness patients have to be healed, they need extensive medical care and support from multiple providers. Primary care physicians might refer a patient to a specialist but, with the shortage of behavioral health providers, patients might not get an appointment quickly. Some patients might just drop the idea of consulting a provider. Some might just use this prolonged waiting time as an excuse to avoid the social stigma associated with seeing a mental health professional. Thus, nearly 60 percent of mental health patients are untreated. By the time they get an appointment they might not be able to recall what they’ve felt or experienced during that time period.
Telemedicine is a technology-based approach, it is a web-based and mobile-enabled software, through which providers can give consultation with the use of virtual face-to-face patient visits with video conferencing. This creates an emotional connect and establishes a rapport with patients in a private setting.
But physicians and behavioral healthcare providers have their own qualms about adopting and advising their patients to use telebehavioral health care for a few reasons. This hesitation is about how telehealth can provide value to the organization and improve healthcare outcomes. Along with this they are unsure about the reimbursements that are tied with services provided through virtual care.
If patients and providers are educated on the benefits of telehealth, telemedicine and telehealth software, more and more patients would want to use them. Infact, telehealth is the most effective tool to combat mental illness especially for people who cannot move away from their homes due to health issues.
Behavioral telehealth is the most effective weapon to fight the ever spreading and challenging issue that our society faces today.