The Covid-19 pandemic has led to a dramatic increase in the use of virtual mental health services, (also known as telemedicine or telebehavioral health). The lockdowns and fear of infection have left patients in need of more care, yet with little choice but to move away from in-person care, and clinicians to quickly figure out how to adapt to new technology to order to offer it.
The CDC has urged greater adoption of telemedicine, saying it “can facilitate public health mitigation strategies during the pandemic by increasing social distancing. These services can be a safer option for clinicians and patients by reducing potential infectious exposures.”
Among the benefits, many clinicians are finding that telemedicine has allowed them to make behavioral health access available to more patients than ever before – which has positive implications for addressing the well-known shortage of mental health services in the US (which we wrote about in last week’s blog).
Studies Show Patients Prefer Virtual Visits With Their Clinicians
How well does telebehavioral health work? And are patients receptive to it? A resounding ‘yes’ say multiple studies done over the past few years. Overall, most show virtual mental health care to be as effective as in-person care in treating disorders such as Depression, Anxiety, and PTSD.
For example, a 2016 meta-analysis of 452 studies of telepsychiatry found high patient satisfaction and quality equal to in-person care. A 2020 Veterans Administration study found telemedicine was as effective as in-person office-based care for treating Depression and PTSD in veterans and military personnel. And in another recent study on telebehavioral health, Accenture reported that 46% of patients “would choose to receive mental health appointments virtually.”
What Are The Benefits To Telemedicine When Treating Mental Health Issues?
Obviously, telemedicine isn’t appropriate in some cases – for instance in most emergency situations we recommend patients seek immediate help. But for many others, the convenience and accessibility make Telemedicine a preferred care solution. Benefits for patients and clinicians alike include:
Improves affordability of care.
Enables screening and evaluations to be done virtually, saving time, and getting patients quicker access to care.
Offers more access for those with chronic conditions and medication management needs.
Expands access for patients who have difficulty accessing care (e.g., those who live in rural areas, older adults, or those with limited mobility). Allows access to residents in long-term care facilities or other specialized residential facilities.
Enables access to mental health specialists and specialized treatment centers that normally are geographically distant from some patients.
Provides more personal care: patients receiving care from the comfort of their own homes feel more relaxed and open to new ways of thinking.
Helps remove the “stigma” of mental health: patients can seek care from their homes rather than having to drive to an office where they may feel more “out in the open” or “exposed”.
In addition, telemedicine has these further benefits to clinicians:
Clinicians don’t need the overhead of a brick & mortar practice.
Enables greater flexibility in scheduling and a better work-life balance.
Removes the need to commute.
For those clinicians who want to and are able to travel, they can see patients from virtually anywhere within the country.
With Telemedicine, Clinicians Can Be Better At What They Do
With all its benefits, study after study reveals that telemedicine is now a fundamental component of our healthcare environment. The American Journal of Managed Care says it predicts that telemedicine will continue to gain adoption and become a staple of modern-day patient care, even post-pandemic. And given that, telemedicine with an easy-to-use, award-winning EHR platform like Telemynd is a great way to expand your practice geographically and demographically - allowing you to reach new populations of patients you may not have had access to before.
And With Telemynd, Clinicians Build A Practice On Their Terms
Telemynd clinicians say things like “...plenty of referrals to choose from so my caseload was full within two months. Gentle entry into telehealth with user-friendly EHR”, and “...work-life balance… family and community atmosphere even though I am states away”, and “...feeling like you did something worthwhile that day”.
If you’re a mental health professional and are looking for a way to expand your career or practice, Telemynd is a nationally delegated telebehavioral health provider offering a better way to see patients and deliver care through our secure cloud-based solution. Check out more recent reviews from your peers, and consider joining our network with access to millions seeking telebehavioral health!
Centers for Disease Control (CDC): Using Telehealth to Expand Access to Essential Health Services during the COVID-19 Pandemic
Harvard Business Review: Digital Tools Are Revolutionizing Mental Health Care in the U.S.
American Journal of Managed Care (AJMC): Patient and Clinician Experiences With Telehealth for Patient Follow-up Care