Mental Health Awareness Month: Telehealth for Behavioral Health

Interest in telehealth’s varied applications remains as strong as ever, and increasing evidence shows that one particular area–behavioral health–could be ripe for virtual consults, both for improving care access and reducing stigmas and associated costs.

Two recent articles from Healthcare IT News reaffirmed this point; the first discussing a new Teladoc study showing measurable ROI from behavioral health services. The second spotlighted how the Department of Veteran Affairs (VA) is now offering psychotherapy counseling through video-to-home technology, helping bring medical services to those who often struggle with seeking care.

Solving Unique Challenges

As we’ve discussed previously, increasing patient access to care is a main benefit of telehealth, but behavioral health presents with particular challenges that prevent patients from seeking care. For example, behavioral health patients and veterans can share similar feelings of stigmatization when receiving in-person consultations, with hospitals and clinics creating an extra layer of anxiety that may prevent individuals from completing treatments.

Compounding this matter is that behavioral health patients often must juggle comorbid medical issues, which can lead to confusion and feelings of being overwhelmed–ultimately leading to missed appointments, care plan errors, and poor outcomes.

To overcome this, the VA uses remote technology that allows patients to speak directly to a therapist, as well as software that replicates in-person therapeutic services. By transforming in-person visits into an online consult or web application, VA doctors found that patients are more likely to complete their sessions and open up about their problems.

Teladoc’s study seems to reinforce the above tactics, claiming that their behavioral health services have resulted in meaningful symptom reduction, with a 32 percent decrease in depression symptoms, a 31 percent reduction in anxiety symptoms and a 20 percent reduction in stress symptoms.

The Next Step

At Wellbox, we recognize the immense value that behavioral health brings to our healthcare system, each of our Care Team members is trained in behavioral and motivational interviewing techniques. Recognizing May as Mental Health Awareness month, we’re dedicated to raising awareness around mental health screening, as well as supporting individuals who often feel as if they are alone and without help.

Telemedicine: Catering to the “Convenience of Now”

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About the Author

Patrick Stevenson is the Care Management Services Officer for Wellbox, the all-inclusive solution for tracking and billing for Chronic Care Management and Annual Wellness Visits, as well as offering in-demand Telemedicine and Remote Patient Monitoring services.

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