The need for mental health services and the availability of mental health support are not matching up well these days as the demand for service grows.
The goal: increased access, patient volume, and better health outcomes.
Read on for insights into how mental health services are adapting to Telehealth processes. How do we get the adoption rates and outcomes we need?
This month is Mental Health Awareness Month. Now more than ever, it’s important to recognize mental health concerns. Nearly one in five adults in the U.S. have a mental illness (NIH 2017), and half of all mental illnesses begin by age 14 (Mental Health First Aid, 2019). The innovations moving quickly today are great to see and much needed to support this high-risk population of tens of millions.
For over 20 years, Tessellati has provided marketing and communications services to help healthcare systems, hospitals, Employee Assistance Program (EAP) providers, among others in the industry, build and nurture their relationships internally and externally.
We have great respect for mental health professionals. We’ve raised and distributed more than $5M to support mental health and addiction service providers. So, with the dramatic increase in need for social service support, we went out and interviewed a few leaders in the field to see what they were seeing out there.
We were particularly interested in the immediate turn to telehealth visits and how this switch was affecting patients.
Here’s what we learned!
Joseph Shrand, MD, is Chief Medical Officer at Riverside Community Care, which focuses their mental health services on children and families, as well as adults. Dr. Shrand shared that Riverside, along with its MindWise Innovations group, are using digital communications for Mental Health Awareness month that promote telehealth adoption. One of the benefits of digital communications: tracking user experience and user adoption.
MindWise is sending emails out this month, providing a bundle of mental health resources about eliminating the stigmas and how to prioritize mental health during COVID-19. Additionally, Riverside is offering free webinars to help decrease stress and anxiety, and also help recovering addicts stay in recovery. An encouraging bit of news: Riverside recently partnered with Harry’s razors, who donated $200,000 to help connect more than 100,000 men with mental health and screening tools.
Adaptation is Key
With his newfound slogan, “Adaptation is Innovation,” Dr. Shrand was happy to report that Riverside adapted very well and quickly to the telehealth transition. The clinical and administrative team went from using telehealth 5-10% of the time to now using it at 100%.
“What we have found is increased compliance and very few no-shows by our patients, which is incredible,” he says. Riverside has confirmed that telehealth appointments are convenient for mental health patients, as they were previously asked to spend hours of their time traveling to their appointments. Now, it takes about 30 seconds for them to connect to a secure link for their telehealth appointment, with no wasted time traveling.“With telehealth appointments, I now have a window into their world and they get to be in their ‘nest,’ their ‘home domain.’ It’s a comfortable space for them to interact, and I think it’s powerful,” notes Dr. Shrand
Matthew Biel, MD, MSc, Vice Chair and Division Chief of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at MedStar Georgetown University Hospital, also confirmed that patients transitioned well to telehealth and that they too are using it at 100%. “We haven’t lost any volume, and it’s great to know that care hasn’t been interrupted by COVID-19,” says Dr. Biel. “Telehealth lends itself really well to mental health, and aspects of child psychiatry are enhanced by it. Seeing kids in their natural environments gives us a much deeper understanding of their lives and what contributes to their mental health.”
We are all in this together
“Mental health services are going to be critical in getting us through this pandemic. This coronavirus is the great equalizer, and finally there is potential for the destigmatization of mental illness. We are all recognizing the increased levels of anxiety and stress that need our attention to feel well and capable in our daily lives.” ~ Dr. Joseph Shrand, Chief Medical Officer at Riverside Community Care
The Tessellati team understands the clinician and consumer realities that go into delivering powerful mental health services. Our deep expertise in healthcare communications help clinicians adapt to new technology platforms. And, importantly, our long-standing consumer health education work has always been about helping patients make informed decisions about their care.
The need for clear, effective, engaging and educational communication has never been greater as we are all getting our information from digital sources. Clear instructions must be paired with the empathy and authenticity that prompts behavior change.
Our team can partner with you to deliver your sensitive external messages effectively to your patients (consumer campaigns), community (brand leadership), and staff (training materials). Adapting and adopting are consistent themes now as we all become capable users of Telehealth services.
In our digital world, we are on a quest to continuously improve user experience for both the patient and the clinician.
Recalling our goal: increased patient volume and better health outcomes.
Stay tuned for part two of this four-part telehealth series, as we delve into health insurance, accessibility, and overcoming barriers to care.