Every day, we see first-hand how telehealth improves access, bridges care gaps, and enhances patient experiences and outcomes.
For many Americans, telehealth has changed how patients receive care and how health systems, community clinics, and providers facilitate care.
Keep reading to learn more about the benefits of telehealth for mental health.
Table of Contents
Improving access to mental health care
One of the most considerable challenges in behavioral health is access. For rural populations, individuals living far from mental health services may have issues finding high-quality and culturally competent care. In a survey conducted in 2022, researchers found that 88% of the rural population reported being open to telehealth. And those who required a doctor more often were even more likely to be interested in telehealth.
These figures are significant, considering that 1 in 5 rural Americans require mental health care.
Leveraging telehealth in rural communities allows Americans to receive the care they need. It also bypasses access, transportation, wait times, and stigma challenges. Since virtual services can occur on-site at a clinic or from a patient’s home, they are an effective way to provide care when barriers exist within a community.
How telehealth bridges gaps in care
Telehealth addresses care gaps for specialized populations, including older patients, children, LGBTQIA+ individuals, and those from diverse cultural backgrounds. Recent data shows that Black patients’ telehealth visit completion rates skyrocketed to 70% from 52% in a Philadelphia health system during the pandemic. According to this study, the challenges of physically traveling to a clinic and taking time off work are significant barriers to mental health care. Virtual behavioral health services can minimize any social determinants of health that communities face.
For example, with a virtual care option, children do not need to miss school, older patients who have trouble traveling can stay home, and patients from marginalized communities can work with a provider who can better relate to and address their unique mental health needs.
Additionally, leveraging telehealth can help organizations combat the worsening psychiatrist shortages, which contributes to a significant gap in mental health care.
Enhancing patient experiences with telehealth
Patients like the results and flexibility telehealth for mental health provides and want to keep using it. While some patients may need to come in person for care, having virtual behavioral health options can deliver massive benefits.
Here are just a few ways telehealth improves the patient experience:
- Better health outcomes: Telehealth can foster better communication between providers and patients, improving health outcomes overall. 93% of patients report that they would use telemedicine to manage prescriptions, and 91% of patients say they patients would use telemedicine to adhere to appointments. Patients can also proactively manage their health with the usage of telehealth by using it for prescription management and appointment adherence.
- Increased continuity of care: Access is everything in mental health care, and telehealth helps improve access and supports continuity of care. In a 2023 study conducted by CVS and The Harris Poll, 85% of people between the ages of 33 and 40 believe that digital health services have made mental health care more accessible. When patients can see the same provider consistently, the patient experience is better. Telehealth makes getting care easier for patients.
- Access to specialty care: When patients need a specialist, such as a child psychiatrist, it can be challenging to navigate the system and find a provider. Telehealth facilitates more straightforward access to mental health specialists for patients and enables collaborative care between providers and specialists, ensuring the best patient care possible. In fact, a 2022 AMA study reported that 75% of clinicians reported that telehealth enabled them to provide quality care.
The future of telehealth
Telehealth has become the new normal, and we think it’s here to stay. With many healthcare organizations leveraging virtual behavioral health to provide high-quality care, their communities and providers can experience the benefits of telehealth for mental health.
In December of 2022, President Biden signed the Omnibus Bill, providing $10 billion for behavioral health and expanding telehealth flexibilities for Medicare beneficiaries. This bill supports expanding workforce development programs and buprenorphine deregulation in the behavioral health industry.
For patients, telehealth has significantly contributed to reducing stigma. The next phase of healthcare involves finding non-stigmatizing and meaningful ways to support individuals with mental health conditions. Telehealth has presented opportunities in this regard and has offered individuals a way to diminish barriers, especially ones related to stigma.
We’re confident telehealth will continue to increase its impact on the behavioral health landscape in the years to come.
Where Iris Telehealth fits in
Telehealth has significantly impacted the behavioral health landscape and will continue to have an impact in the future. If you’re looking to implement telehealth into your organization, contact us today to see how our telepsychiatry services can help.