America’s provider shortage continues to grow, and people across the country are feeling the strain. Between the greater demand for treatment, limited residency spots, and a decrease in stigma around mental health treatment, there’s a clear need for effective patient care and more providers. By the numbers, the behavioral health provider shortage impacts 129 million Americans, with over three-quarters of U.S. counties experiencing a severe lack of mental health prescribers or non-prescribers.
Thankfully, telepsychiatry can help. Telepsychiatry can help healthcare organizations across the country keep up with the growing demand for mental health care. Keep reading to learn how telepsychiatry can help your organization combat the provider shortage and provide your community with the high-quality care it needs.
Understanding the provider and patient experience
Today, many providers are experiencing high levels of burnout and loss of job satisfaction. For organizations, burnout means decreased continuity of care for their patients and more barriers to hiring quality providers. For patients, this shortage equates to waiting lists and considerable time spent sitting in the emergency department (ED) waiting for help.
Let’s take a look at what each of these experiences looks like up close:
- Providers: With the need for patient care at an all-time high, the pressure on providers is immense, and burnout is a significant issue, affecting 78% of psychiatrists. Contributing factors to burnout may include work environment, compassion fatigue, and struggle to achieve work-life balance. At Iris Telehealth, we work to alleviate the pressure on providers by removing barriers like paperwork, credentialing, and licensing. That way, they can have the time, flexibility, and support to care for themselves and their patients. Organizations benefit, too. When their providers are healthy and happy, their patients get the high-quality care they need.
- Patients: For patients, getting care when and where they need it is crucial, and long waits can cause them to go into crisis. In fact, long wait times have led to crises in emergency departments across the U.S. With a lack of beds and providers to meet patient needs, people are spending extensive amounts of time waiting for psychiatric treatment, placement in a psychiatric facility, or a safe discharge plan.
Telepsychiatry can help patients get the care they need when they need it. In the community space, telepsychiatry can connect patients with high-quality, experienced providers who can help them get the right care, including medication recommendations and therapy. For organizations seeking providers who can care for the needs of specific populations, this help is crucial. Telepsychiatry allows organizations to recruit from a wider geographic pool and connect with providers who bring great value and skill to the clinic staff and patients.
The benefits of telepsychiatry and collaborative care
There are several steps healthcare organizations can take to help compensate for the lack of providers, including implementing telepsychiatry and investing in collaborative care. Telepsychiatry delivers quality, sustainable behavioral health care to healthcare organizations while also providing best-in-class support and expertise.
Organizations are also leaning into collaborative care. In fact, federally qualified health centers (FQHCs) and primary care clinics are expanding their mental health offerings – investing in LCSWs, therapists, psychiatrists, and PMHNPs to embrace this model. Collaborative care is elevated by telepsychiatry and makes specialty care more accessible. Providing this level of access to those in rural areas, where finding providers can be particularly challenging, is especially important.
Telepsychiatry simplifies this process by integrating into multiple locations with one set of staff. For instance, you might have one primary care provider in an eight-county rural area. Instead of finding eight providers to go into each clinic, having one who can plug into several different centers is highly beneficial.
Three key ways telepsychiatry is indispensable during shortages
Telepsychiatry is a powerful tool that connects patients with high-quality care and helps organizations expand their behavioral health programs while supporting their on-site teams. Because of these benefits, telepsychiatry has become indispensable during provider shortages.
Let’s look at three other reasons telepsychiatry stands out as a solution during the provider shortage:
- Telepsychiatry has an expansive reach: Telepsychiatry connects organizations with high-quality, specialty providers they wouldn’t otherwise be able to access. If an organization in rural America needs a provider who practices within a particular specialty, they can virtually bring them into their clinic or hospital and provide valuable care to underserved populations.
- Telepsychiatry can reduce provider burnout: Telepsychiatry is especially beneficial to providers as it cuts the commute out of their day, gives them more time and flexibility, and combats compassion fatigue. It also allows for more self-care time, lets them work with a population they wouldn’t otherwise be able to reach, and ultimately helps increase work satisfaction.
- Patients get the care they need when they need it: Telepsychiatry connects patients to specialty care and helps organizations avoid care gaps. It also provides the long-term sustainability patients and providers need to build relationships.
Where Iris Telehealth fits in
At Iris, we are dedicated to improving patient outcomes with exceptional behavioral health care while decreasing the burden on your care team. We match your organization with the best behavioral health providers for your community, provide the behavioral health expertise you need to optimize your program, and deliver best-in-class support to make telepsychiatry a seamless, long-term solution for your healthcare organization and your patients.
Contact us today if you’d like to implement a telepsychiatry solution into your organization.