May 16, 2019 | By Sue Hilger

Telehealth improves access to care for Behavioral Health patients, while reducing costs

Telehealth improves access and reduces costs for Behavioral Health

The applications for telehealth are too numerous to mention. Every specialty can harness remarkable benefits from instituting virtual health as part of the standard operating procedure. While it can impact every facet of healthcare, the most obvious beneficiaries are those in rural areas. Behavioral Health is a specialty that is quickly realizing the benefits of improved access and reduced costs.

Providing remote care

Eric Wicklund reported on how telehealth is transforming Behavioral Health (BH) access for students in Dickinson, ND. That school district provides support for its on-site counselors and facilitate students’ using telehealth to connect with psychiatrists, who may be located hundreds of miles away.

The new norm

Telehealth is going mainstream for Behavioral Health and other specialties for a number of reasons:

  • Convenient access to care for the patient – anywhere and scheduled or on-demand
  • Clinician access to patient records and improved efficiency
  • Improved patient outcomes, along with reduced no-show rates
  • Reduced costs

And for BH patients, getting that access can be more difficult than for others. These individuals are often reluctant to leave their home to get that much-needed care, and meeting with a clinician using a tablet, phone, or laptop takes away that hurdle for those patients.

The net result is that the patients have better access to healthcare professionals, and clinicians are more informed and can spend more time with the patients, instead of time dealing with paperwork.

Cost Impact

The savings are well documented. A report by HealtcareFinance provides detailed statistics on how telemedicine can control costs and better ensure patient engagement for BH. “Treating mental health, in particular, becomes easier, less costly, and less stigmatized, when BH treatment can take place in a virtual setting.”

The time is now for medical professionals to embrace telehealth and reap the rewards of doing so.

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