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Transitioning To Telehealth - Behavioral and Mental Health

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Diana Zimmerman

With telehealth solutions increasing exponentially in both usage and popularity, some healthcare specialties, in particular behavioral and mental health, have seen a big shift towards continuity of virtual care. A trend projected to persist even beyond the end of the pandemic.

In fact, a study published in the Journal of General Internal Medicine found that the sharp escalation in telehealth use during the height of Covid-19 was driven by people seeking mental health services and that an upwards of 81% of behavioral health providers began utilizing telehealth for the very first time. That being said, telehealth will continue to pave the way for provider/patient engagement as well as help empower innovation opportunities for new remote patient monitoring (RPM) technology and optimize the delivery of care.

How Telehealth Benefits Behavioral and Mental Health 

Telehealth is now more critical than ever for many reasons, especially because of the convenience, privacy and flexibility it offers the behavioral and mental health industry. Additionally, it simplifies providers’ efforts to coordinate multidisciplinary care and better track patients' individualized treatment plans. 

However, most notably, telehealth streamlines clinical workflows and reduces the risks of exposure. Plus, virtual care improves healthcare availability, frequency and efficacy by extending care to rural populations who may be in need of more cost-effective consultations or increased accessibility to plans of care.

Communication Is Essential To Favorable Outcomes

A patient’s journey represents the entire sequence of events that a patient experiences across providers or within a given healthcare system — from appointment scheduling for routine checkups to receiving treatment for an injury or illness. Throughout this journey, ongoing care and communication helps patients build relationships with providers while learning about their conditions and taking steps to foster healthy outcomes. While a traditional clinical setup typically allows the patient and healthcare provider to interact in a face-to-face setting, telehealth provides a more sustained opportunity for providers to effectively collaborate with patients as well as make ongoing communication efforts.

Encouraging a consistent flow of honest communication between providers and patients is essential in behavioral health. In fact, regular talk therapy is a typical component of many behavioral and mental health treatment plans. As a result,  providers can use telehealth to ensure open engagement, making it less challenging for patients to access care and seek support, whether it's via video chat or physically in the clinic.

The Value Of Remote Patient Monitoring

Aside from telehealth, remote patient monitoring leverages technology that digitally collects patient data and sends it to providers. From making initial diagnoses to securing a better overall understanding of the patient’s condition, providers now have unlimited opportunities to engage with their patients. Using data collected through RPM devices such as Amazon’s ‘Halo’, providers can deliver more effective care by gaining clearer awareness of a patient’s behavioral and emotional triggers.

As clinicians and patients increase familiarity with digital healthcare technology, RPM adoption is increasing rapidly, with the global RPM market poised to grow at a rate of 14.1%, from $786.4 Million in 2019 to $2.14 Billion in 2027. Undoubtedly, many practices have begun to realize the value in consistently obtaining patient data despite any social restrictions posed by the pandemic. For example, RPM allows providers to analyze health parameters and elevate standards of care for patients with chronic conditions or for those who are at more risk of contracting Covid-19. 

Furthermore, telehealth empowers providers in ways that in-person clinical visits can sometimes not. While a few initial steps are necessary to get started  — installing and learning to use new technology in addition to eliminating distractions — most providers can easily make the transition to virtual care as well as push for heightened patient collaboration.

As telehealth and RPM become a more significant part of the healthcare landscape, providers must adapt and evolve in order to keep up with progressing patient expectations. Now that many patients have had some initial experiences with telehealth, investing in an intuitive, comprehensive engagement platform is recommended for behavioral and mental health providers who want to stay ahead of the game. Click here to learn more about Connect and discover how we deliver Software-as-a-Relationship.


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