November 25, 2019 | By Sue Hilger
Why Behavioral Health clinicians and patients are embracing telehealth
Telehealth for Behavioral Health – it’s all over the news! Everywhere you turn, there seems to be an article about how mental health professionals are adopting telehealth to better serve their patients. You may wonder – why is behavioral health adopting telemedicine so rapidly?
There are a number of factors influencing the behavioral health sectors. Let’s review the primary issues, all of which telehealth helps overcome.
In 2018, over 43.8 million Americans experienced mental illness, and 60% – yes, SIXTY PERCENT – did NOT receive any mental health services, as reported by HealthLeaders.
With so many people not getting care, the impact on society and our economy is monumental. The estimate of the impact of serious mental illness was $193.2 billion in lost earnings in the U.S. last year. Eye opening!
The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) reported some frightening statistics, giving greater perspective of the need for mental health services.
- Suicide is ranked #2 of the most common causes of death for people ages 10-34
- Suicide is ranked #10 of the most common causes of death for the overall population
- The suicide rate has increased by 31%since 2001 in the U.S.
- 90% of people who die by suicide had shown symptoms of a mental health condition, according to interviews with family, friends and medical professionals
- 1 in 5 U.S. adults experience mental illness each year
Clearly, we are in the midst of a crisis.
With the staggering demand for care comes the need for specialists – another problem. According to a 2016 report published by the Health Resources and Services Administration (and reported by US News & World Report), the projected supply of behavioral health professionals will be roughly 250,000 short of the projected demand in 2025.
The reasons cited for the shortfall are:
- Astonishing demand
- Perception of low pay
And, those living in rural areas are the most negatively impacted, since clinicians tend to live in urban areas. More than half of U.S. counties have zero psychiatrists, according to a 2016 Health Affairs report.
As a society, we are making headway with having a greater understanding of behavioral health and how people can be helped. Yet, a stigma still exists, especially among men. Many American males still subscribe to the belief that they need to be the providers – “the strong ones” – in our society. As a result, they do not want – or think they need – such care and believe that receiving such care would be a personal weakness.
This can be overcome by flipping this perception, and it’s happening The topic of behavioral health is addressed in the news and by the entertainment industry, raising public awareness and working to remove the stigma.
Telehealth to the rescue
Innovations in technology are making access to virtual care a viable option. The issues outlined above can be overcome, because clinicians can meet with patients wherever either are located!
A clinician’s time becomes far more efficient with telehealth. The patient simply dials in and quickly begins an encounter using a laptop, a tablet, or even a mobile phone. The patient doesn’t need to trek to an office or clinic – just click and connect. While the expanding need for more healthcare professionals is a reality, at least clinicians can expand their reach far beyond their local community.
Telehealth offers the added benefit of practically removing the stigma mentioned earlier. When a person seeks care at a hospital, clinic, or office, s/he runs the risk of being recognized, and that fear alone prevents some from seeking care. With telehealth, that risk is completely eliminated – the patient isn’t physically entering an office, but rather meeting virtually. No one has to know.
The demand for behavioral health clinicians is exploding, and the supply of professionals cannot handle the demand. Telehealth is solving this problem.
At ViTel Net, we are happy to help facilitate solutions to mitigate this crisis. Our team is working with our clients to deliver the latest technology, making care delivery hassle-free for patients, caregivers, and the first responders on the front lines. Review our Solution Brief for TeleBehavioral Health for information on what your clinicians and IT staff can expect when working with us.
Give us a call or contact us to learn how we can configure a solution that works well for your team.