The demand for telehealth continues to grow, and if you’re an organization utilizing a virtual behavioral health solution like telepsychiatry, you understand the value of this platform first-hand. By the numbers, 96% of behavioral health providers think telehealth has proven its worth as a therapeutic tool during the pandemic, and 59% of patients say they would use telehealth for mental healthcare.
It’s clear patients and providers alike are reaping the benefits of telehealth for mental health. However, it can be difficult to determine when you should expand your telepsychiatry program.
In our experience at Iris Telehealth, we’ve seen more than 90% of our partnerships grow within the first year. But, how do you know if expansion is the right choice for your organization? Keep reading to learn the 10 signs it’s time to expand your telepsychiatry program.
1. You have an extensive waiting list for behavioral health patients
Telepsychiatry helps organizations improve patient wait times. However, if your practice continues to grow, or you’re a new CCBHC working to meet an influx of patient needs, you may experience waitlists as you did before investing in telepsychiatry. Our partners have found that the simplest solution in this situation is to continue expanding their already-existing telepsychiatry department rather than hiring an on-site psychiatrist, which could take ample time to find the right match.
At Iris, we help organizations through this process, using an approach we call “The Iris Match.” The Iris Match is our promise to our partners that we will ensure their provider will meet their organization’s needs, culture, and values. By the end of our match process, our partner organizations have a provider who will not only fill their care gaps, but who their care team and patients love.
2. Your existing psychiatrists are overwhelmed by their patient load
Part of the reason you may have started a telepsychiatry program was to lighten the workload for your on-site providers, but due to high demand, you may need more help. This growing pain might mean it’s time to increase the hours of operation for your telepsychiatry program so your on-site staff can function without feeling overwhelmed. Many partners have found that telepsychiatry works as an excellent supplementary staffing model when used correctly.
3. Your care team and patients are responding well to telepsychiatry, and outcomes are improving
If your organization was hesitant about telepsychiatry at first – you’re not alone. Upfront, we often hear organizations say they’re concerned their patients won’t like the platform. However, after working with Iris, this concern is quickly eliminated. Technology is now a significant part of our daily lives, and patients are typically comfortable using telehealth for mental health care.
Additionally, telepsychiatry providers integrate well into organizations and create valuable relationships with the on-site teams and patients. Due to this extra help and seamless integration, the desire for virtual visits and care typically increases. If this experience resonates with your organization, growing your telepsychiatry program can help lead to happier patients and better outcomes.
4. You need a specialized provider
If you started your telepsychiatry program with a more general provider to help cover basic patient needs, you may soon realize you need specialty care as well. Whether that’s finding a Spanish-speaking provider, a child psychiatrist, or even a geriatric psychiatrist – telepsychiatry has you covered. Thankfully, this platform has an expansive reach and can connect organizations with providers from all over the country.
Additionally, at Iris, our rigorous vetting process ensures that all our behavioral health providers are top quality and have a track record of providing exceptional care. We also have several provider types to help meet an organization’s needs. Whether you’re looking to work with a psychiatrist, PMHNP, or an LCSW, we can help recommend and match you with the right provider for your needs.
5. Your number of referrals for new patients is increasing
When an organization implements a telepsychiatry program, they’re able to meet the mental health needs of more patients. While this success is positive, it can increase referrals and make it difficult to meet demand. If you’re familiar with this challenge, it might be an excellent time to consider expanding your telepsychiatry department.
6. You are acquiring more patient rooms or space in your building
Are you adding to your current facility or gaining access to more space to help with your growing patient population? If this is the case, you are in a great position to plan and begin expanding your telepsychiatry department. That way, once you gain access to your new space, you are ready to fill it.
7. Your no-show rate is decreasing
Telepsychiatry increases patient access to high-quality care. Because of this increased access and convenience, you may see no-show rates decrease. With lower no-show rates, your providers may find themselves with increasingly full schedules. To meet demand and help your providers continue providing excellent care, you might consider increasing your telepsychiatry program’s hours.
8. You realize your telepsychiatry provider is essential to your team
At Iris, we only extend a formal offer to 6% of clinical candidates who apply to work with us. That means we know we’re getting the best of the best. One of the reasons our partnerships have such longevity is the quality of care our providers facilitate. While organizations may have some initial concerns about provider integration, they are pleasantly surprised to find that their telepsychiatry provider quickly becomes an essential part of the team.
If this is the case for you, maybe it’s time to consider other telemental health best practices, like expanding your provider’s hours from 16 to 30 or even exploring bringing on another telepsychiatry provider.
9. You still can’t find the right on-site psychiatrist
If you’re struggling to find an on-site provider for your organization, you’re not alone. Due to the provider shortage, finding help is a typical challenge. This inability to find providers is one of the primary reasons telepsychiatry has grown in popularity. If you’ve experienced great success with your telepsychiatry provider, it could be a good time to invest in bringing another psychiatrist, LCSW or PMHNP onto the team.
10. You realize that telepsychiatry is a sustainable, long-term solution
Telepsychiatry is the future of mental healthcare and serves as a sustainable, long-term solution for your organization. If you’re ready to make telepsychiatry your one-stop shop for all things mental healthcare, consider expanding your program.
What does it look like to expand your telepsychiatry program?
Growing your telepsychiatry solution doesn’t have to be complicated. In fact, most organizations have taken care of the hard part by making the initial investment, figuring out technology, creating workflows, and training providers. That said, growing your telepsychiatry program can be as simple as adding a couple days of coverage to your program or reaching out to your telepsychiatry organization to see if they can help you find another provider and implement telepsychiatry best practices. Regardless of your needs, expanding a current telepsychiatry program can set you and your organization up for success.
About Iris Telehealth
At Iris, we work with you to create a long-term placement that facilitates continuity of care for your patients and care team. Our rigorous vetting process ensures that all our behavioral health providers are top quality and have a track record of providing exceptional care to communities like yours.
If you would like to talk more about how we can help your organization secure a long-term provider fit, contact us today.