Telehealth is a rapidly developing technology platform that has the potential to revolutionize health care delivery, including behavioral health. Telehealth services use electronic tools and devices to connect patients with their providers, who can monitor their condition remotely. Telecare companies provide therapeutic services for in-home monitoring, drug management programs and more. While telehealth has been around for years, its use has increased dramatically within the past decade as advancements have been made in mobile technology and remote patient monitoring devices (RPMDs).
For our behavioral health industry, the rise of telehealth during the pandemic has been a boon in many ways. But it has also brought about unique challenges. Here’s the landscape as we see it.
What is Telehealth?
Telehealth is an online consultation between a patient and a provider. It’s also referred to as telemedicine, remote medicine, or virtual care.
Telehealth is the use of information and communication technologies (ICT) to support healthcare delivery and improve health outcomes. Telehealth matters because people can access high-quality care from their homes or communities without leaving their local area.
Telehealth Statistics in 2022
In 2022, telehealth services are growing at a rapid pace. It was estimated that 40% of all behavioral health providers were utilizing some form of telehealth within their organization, with most utilizing more than one modality.
Telehealth Benefits for Behavioral Health Agencies
Telehealth has the potential to provide behavioral health agencies with a number of benefits, including:
- Reduced costs and wait times: Telemedicine reduces the cost of delivering care because it eliminates travel time and related expenses associated with physical office visits. It also reduces appointment wait times by offering early access to treatment through virtual sessions. As a result, you can offer more patients treatment in less time, which leads to improved outcomes and higher patient satisfaction scores.
- Happier patients: Because of all the pros listed here, patients are often happier and more satisfied with their care from a behavioral health agency when engaging in telehealth services. Happier patients lead to more client referrals, longer care windows, and a generally better environment for clientele and employees.
- More patients: The ability to see patients in a more efficient manner allows a behavioral health agency to take on more clients than they used to. More clients equals more revenue and profit. This is a major win for our industry.
- Improved access to care for rural populations: Rural communities often have limited access to quality mental health resources that are necessary for successful treatment plans. Telemedicine technology allows clinicians at distant locations from each other (or even from different states) to connect through video conferencing platforms so they can share information about their clients’ progress or discuss new solutions for challenges related specifically for those living in rural areas where there aren’t enough behavioral healthcare providers available locally who specialize in treating mental illness issues like depression or anxiety disorders.
- Technology issues are in the past: When telehealth first came to the fore in early 2020, tech issues were rampant in the industry. Now, two years on, the behavioral health agencies have figured out how to efficiently provide care to patients over video call. And that’s a win-win!
Telehealth Drawbacks for Behavioral Health Agencies
Telehealth is still in its infancy, and that means it comes with some drawbacks. While telehealth has the potential to improve accessibility for patients who need behavioral health treatment, there are a few things you should be aware of before jumping on board.
- Not every patient will be able to benefit from this technology: Another consideration before implementing telehealth services into your behavioral health agency’s offerings is whether or not the technology will actually benefit your clients and patients.
- For example, if someone has severe anxiety issues and needs an in-person appointment with someone they trust (a therapist), then they probably won’t feel comfortable speaking through their webcam with someone they’ve never met before without seeing them face-to-face first.
- Billing can be complicated: One issue that arises when offering this type of service is billing insurers as well as clients’ private insurance companies differently based on how many sessions each person had during a given month due their specific coverage terms; however this process can vary widely depending on what state you’re working within because each state has different regulations regarding reimbursement rates depending on whether they’re considered “in network” providers versus “out of network” providers–and even further still depending on whether these types treatments are being provided remotely through telemedicine services versus traditional office visits via regular visits which require documented proof from doctors’ offices themselves after being billed directly by providers themselves.”
Telehealth has the potential to revolutionize the way mental health and behavioral health services are provided. However, it’s important for providers to understand the benefits and limitations of telehealth before investing in this technology. In addition, there are many factors that must be considered when choosing between different types of video conferencing platforms that can help you select the best fit for your agency’s needs.
Questions about the next steps in Telehealth services and implementation? Please reach out to us at [email protected].