During this time, where there is so much focus on our physical health, it is essential to not forget about our mental health. With all the changes and challenges that we have to overcome with this pandemic, it is easy to feel overwhelmed, anxious, and stressed. Social distancing can make this worse and make everyone feel more alone.
Mental health has been seen as a taboo topic to discuss, but it is time to remove the stigma. An estimated 44 million adults in the U.S. are living with a mental illness and studies have shown that poor mental health negatively affects our physical health. In the past, behavioral health has been an afterthought, however, providers have started to address behavioral health to improve overall health. Health care agencies like the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) have been working to integrate behavioral and physical health care services by making policies that focus on collaborative care and eliminate the gaps in care. We can also use technology to make behavioral and mental health treatments more accessible and integrated into our health care system.
Typically, most patients will seek to visit a doctor if they are experiencing a cough or chest pains. Despite interest from patients, there are still barriers limiting patients from accessing mental health treatments. These barriers include a limited number of accessible mental health clinics, logistics of finding a mental health professional who is likely to accept their insurance, and social stigma. Also, patients in rural areas might avoid seeking mental health treatment for fear of being seen by another member of the community. These barriers make it difficult for patients to navigate their health care roadmap in search of the appropriate treatments. But what if telehealth could help?
Four out of five Americans own a smartphone, and there are over 20,000 apps on the market for mental health. Typically, smartphones are associated with creating more mental health issues, but we have the opportunity to turn smartphones into pocket therapists and mental health oases. COVID-19 has pushed telehealth into the limelight, and it looks like it is here to stay. Research has shown that 59% of patients are more likely to use telehealth services now than previously. Why is that?
Patients enjoy being able to visit with their doctor without the hassle of making the trip to the clinic or office. Telehealth has the opportunity to remove barriers for patients receiving treatments for their mental health, like giving patients more options for providers and making treatment more accessible for patients in more rural areas. Telehealth also gives patients access to a wide variety of treatments outside of traditional therapy. Patients who would feel uncomfortable starting therapy in person might be more open to seeing a therapist in the privacy of their own home. Telehealth therapy also reduces patient travel time and other logistical issues. The benefits of telehealth also extend to the providers themselves by reducing their practice's operating costs and overhead expenses.
pMD provides unparalleled customer support and strives to improve both patients’ and providers’ lives. pMD’s clinical communication and care navigation platforms can help connect patients to providers and ensure patients are being treated holistically. pMD can help customize a solution for your practice to better serve your patients’ telehealth needs.