COVID-19 has highlighted the importance of many things, with behavioral health and access to behavioral health care being some of the biggest. This has driven many healthcare providers and organizations to look closer at how and why they should leverage telebehavioral health solutions.
While both telebehavioral health (the use of telehealth in behavioral health care) and in-person care have their own advantages, healthcare organizations should aim for a hybrid approach that makes the most of both options.
Pros of Telebehavioral Health Services
Convenience: Without the need to travel and sit in waiting rooms, patients are able to better fit appointments into their schedules and avoid taking time away from other life commitments.
Safety: Patients do not have to sit in offices and worry about the risk of being exposed to COVID-19 or other infections.
Quality: Studies have found that telehealth is just as good as in-person care when delivered by a competent professional in the right environment and with the right technology.
Pros of In-Person Care
Rapport: In-person care often allows for stronger patient-provider relationships, which, for many individuals, can be an important part of treatment and recovery.
Simplicity: In some cases, handling things like billing and insurance claims is easier for patients to do in person where someone can readily assist them.
Clarity: On both the patient and provider sides, there is no learning curve with in-person care. No one has to learn how to effectively utilize new technologies.
When to Choose One Over the Other
Telehealth: Telehealth solutions, like virtual appointments, are an effective option for follow-up visits, ongoing patient monitoring for individuals with chronic health conditions, and counseling for behavioral health patients.
In-person care: Seeing a provider face to face is better suited for first-time visits, examinations that require a hands-on approach, and times when issues aren’t being resolved as expected and require more thorough follow-up.
Looking Forward: A Hybrid Approach to Healthcare
The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the way we see healthcare. Although COVID-19 will eventually pass and many people will return to in-person visits, mobile devices and other telehealth solutions will, ideally, continue to be a viable alternative to many in-person behavioral health services. Providers looking to make the most of a changing industry and provide patients with the best of both worlds should consider making a hybrid approach their standard approach to care delivery.
While many providers have adopted a hybrid approach out of necessity, its benefits are clear. In a post-pandemic world, taking a hybrid approach may prove to be the answer to creating a profitable model that creates more positive health outcomes.
Benefits of a Hybrid Approach
More efficient care
Taking advantage of telehealth not only helps the patient save time by eliminating travel needs but also gives the providers more opportunities to focus on delivering high-quality care. Telehealth services allow for easy access to patient data and more immediate connections with patients, saving providers time and effort and reducing burnout, which translates into better care. Furthermore, by implementing remote visits, organizations can reduce crowding and open up spaces for those that strictly require in-person care.
Better patient experiences
COVID-19 has emphasized the importance of convenience. By implementing a hybrid model, healthcare organizations can meet patient expectations without removing the possibility of in-person care. In addition to making healthcare more convenient, a hybrid model opens up access to health specialists. A patient’s options for specialists are traditionally limited by location and insurance, but telehealth allows behavioral health specialists to expand their reach.
Reimbursement for virtual services is sometimes unclear because of quickly evolving regulations. However, choosing to utilize a hybrid of virtual and in-person care can, in many cases, reduce costs for both patient and provider. With remote care, patients can eliminate transport costs and save on the costs of needing to take time off of work. Health centers, especially those that provide patient transport, can similarly reduce unnecessary costs.
Go Hybrid with iTether
We’re ready to help your behavioral health organization go hybrid with a fully integrated telehealth platform. Designed to fit your unique approach to digital care, iTether encourages better virtual connections between patients and providers. And when in-person care is needed, streamlined workflows will help you focus on what matters most—delivering quality care to your patients.
Let’s connect today to talk more about what we can do for you and the people you serve.