More people are struggling with behavioral health conditions than ever before, which has led to an explosive increase in need for effective outpatient services. Unfortunately, healthcare organizations everywhere are having a hard time keeping up.

That’s why we’re breaking down some of the biggest challenges facing outpatient behavioral healthcare today—and how technology is offering the solutions healthcare facilities need.

COMMUNICATION & INFORMATION SHARING

In many cases, behavioral health patients aren’t seeing a single provider but a whole network of outpatient behavioral healthcare professionals. This means effective communicaiton between providers, and with the patient, is crucial to improved patient experiences and overall health outcomes.

Luckily, telecommunication solutions, such as messaging features on telehealth platforms, are making this easier than ever. If a patient’s care team members are not located in the same area, they can quickly, easily, and securely access health information and connect with each other about patient needs. As a result, providers can eliminate information silos and provide a more productive in-office experience for patients.

PERSONALIZED PATIENT EXPERIENCIES

Now more than ever, patients are looking for a personalized and seamless healthcare experience, especially in outpatient settings. However, under traditional, less value-focused care models, providers don’t gather enough patient information to fully meet patient expectations.

Organizations that are trying to keep up with these changing demands have begun making the switch to patient-centered models and using technology solutions to achieve their goals. Technologies like remote patient monitoring allow behavioral heath care professionals to collect patient data in real time, construct more personalized health plans, and foster more meaningful conversations during in-person visits.

CLINICIAN SHORTAGES

About 46 million Americans live in rural areas and, as a result, face unique challenges when it comes to accessing outpatient behavioral services (and inpatient care, for that matter). This lack of access boils down to two main causes: geographic barriers and provider shortages. In other words, patients not only live further away from healthcare providers, but there are also fewer providers to begin with.

Telehealth solutions are helping individuals overcome these barriers. Though not a complete replacement for in-person care, telehealth closes some gaps by giving individuals direct access to behavioral healthcare providers that aren’t available locally. For example, individuals in recovery from substance use disorders can more readily access different therapy options that might not exist at all in more rural areas.

TRANSPORTATION BARRIERS

If patients are able to find the outpatient behavioral and mental health services they need in their area, transportation barriers may still prevent them from being able to receive those services. Patients may not have the phsyical ability to drive, they may not be able to afford the cost of gas and other driving expenses, or they may not have easy access to any means of transportation at all.

Organizations everywhere have begun to address this issue, with many utilizing non-emergency medical transportation providers. For outpatient services that don’t require in-person visits, more organizations are leveraging digital technology solutions. Virtual appointments are becoming increasingly common because they eliminate the need to travel at all, on top of offering more convenient and flexible scheduling options to both patients and providers.

CLINICIAN BURNOUT

Clinicians shortages aren’t just a problem in rural areas. Urban communities are also facing shortages fueled by clinican burnout. In fact, we’re likely to see a shortage of 100,000 doctors by 2030. While not the sole answer to combating the issues behind this shortage, telehealth is a viable solution for improving in-person patient and clinician experiences (while simultaneously expanding access through remote care delivery).

Integrated telehealth platforms, for example, actively engage patients by giving them all the tools they need take charge of their health, which, in turn, contributes to improved outcomes. This combined with the automation capabilities and workflow benefits of telehealth platforms help unburden providers working in outpatient care settings.

iTether: Improving Behavioral Health Outcomes Through Human Connection

With our innovative digital platform, behavioral healthcare facilities get the tools and capabilities they need to address key challenges and improve patient outcomes. Connect with us today to learn more about how we serve you—so you can better serve your patients.