More than 50% of Americans will be diagnosed with a mental health disorder at some point in their lives. In the face of challenges presented by COVID-19, conversations around this number have become more commonplace, with more individuals seeking out mental health care services and more healthcare providers looking for innovative ways to adapt to a changing healthcare landscape.
While the global pandemic is not the reason remote health care delivery was created, it has certainly become a catalyst for the rise in popularity of online mental health resources, such as mobile apps designed specifically to support mental wellbeing.
The number of convergences between mental health and technology is always increasing, but the term telemental health refers specifically to the remote delivery of mental health services by mental health professionals. Whether it’s video conferencing or text-based therapy, this modern way of providing quality healthcare has shown to have a wide range of benefits for both patient and clinician.
Provided that patients have access to the correct technology, telemental health can make treatment easier for people of all ages to access, as clinicians can easily extend mental health services to people living in remote areas. Online therapy and remote tracking of treatment plans also give greater access to individuals in a correctional environment, in which it isn’t always possible to meet with a provider in person.
Time savings & flexibility
Stress levels are at an all-time high, but not everyone has the time or resources to fit in an appointment during standard 9 to 5 office hours, no matter how much it’s needed. A patient’s job or family responsibilities may make it feel nearly impossible to find a time to see their mental health provider.
Clinicians, too, have responsibilities to balance, making the search for the right appointment time even more difficult. By utilizing telemental health services, clinicians can set a schedule that expands their availability and fits their needs. From there, patients can connect with clinicians whose schedule aligns best with theirs.
Remote appointments mean more convenience, and more convenience means fewer cancellations and no-shows. When patients are unable to attend their appointment at the last minute, clinicians need to make up for the lost time and money. With telemental health, patients have more flexibility and are more likely to attend appointments, saving clinicians money. Plus, greater flexibility gives providers more opportunities to take on additional patients.
Patients also experience cost benefits by utilizing a telemental health provider. Better appointment attendance means no risk of cancellation or no-show fees, and with increased scheduling flexibility, there is a greatly reduced need to travel and take time off of work, which can lead to significant savings.
While public discussions around mental health have become more common, the stigma associated with mental illness is still a very real problem, and is one of the biggest reasons why individuals choose not to seek help. With telemental health, patients are able to remain in a more private, familiar environment for much of their treatment. As a result, they are less likely to experience anxiety regarding their treatment and may become more accepting of it, ultimately leading to better outcomes.
Many studies have shown that telemental health delivers the same results as in-person visits in terms of patient satisfaction and adherence to treatment plans. Others have further noted that with some populations or treatment types, such as children, telemental health can actually be more effective than in-person visits because of the novelty and authenticity of the interaction. Telemental health is undeniably effective, helping mental health patients everywhere get the care they need.
iTether: Your go-to source for telehealth solutions
The COVID-19 pandemic dramatically changed how we see healthcare, and if you’re a behavioral or mental healthcare provider, it’s time to start taking advantage of telemental health to adapt to a changing industry. iTether is ready to help you help your patients with innovative telehealth solutions that let you engage with your patients anytime, anywhere.