Telepsychiatry Companies

Category: Blog

Certified Community Behavioral Health Centers (CCBHC) are specially designated clinics offering comprehensive services to treat mental health and substance use disorders. Organizations must apply for designation and adhere to extensive CCBHC certification criteria, ultimately allowing them to focus on target populations, increase access to care, and offer a broader range of services.

In a webinar hosted by Iris Telehealth, leaders from Pines Behavioral Health, HealthRIGHT 360, and Deschutes County Mental Health came together to discuss their journeys to gaining CCBHC certification, their advice on the certification process, and insights into virtual care.

In this blog, we’ll review insights from these organizations on the challenges and benefits of becoming a CCBHC and learn how they’ve found success.

First steps and goals when considering CCBHC certification

Deciding to become a CCBHC comes with many considerations, and knowing the first steps and getting clear on goals can be helpful to the process. For example, at HealthRIGHT 360, they applied via SAMHSA’s CCBHC expansion grant opportunity.

When reflecting on their goal for gaining CCBHC certification, Melissa Espinoza, the CCBHC Program Director at HealthRIGHT 360, said, “We wanted to enhance our longstanding outpatient behavioral health programs in LA County and potentially to replicate this throughout other sites within the agency and organization.”

For Chandra Mola, the Medical Team Manager at Deschutes County Mental Health, their goal was to create a more integrated, whole-person approach to care and extend outreach into their rural communities.

On their certification, Mola said, “We were certified in 2017. We had a small integrated primary care office and had kind of a one-stop shop and saw the benefits of having that whole-person care collaboration and improvements with overall health. One of the driving pieces was being able to expand to our more rural locations and offer that at all of our sites. Then the second piece was just a plan to diversify our funding.”

Whether you want to enhance your existing behavioral health services or reach more people in your community, CCBHC certification can help support your efforts. While it’s essential to get clear on your goals, it’s also important to consider any potential challenges and the right strategies you might need to meet these head-on.

Potential challenges and strategies to CCBHC certification

Gaining designation can be rigorous, and there can be a lot of CCBHC criteria to consider when preparing your organization for the process.

Here are a few challenges CCBHCs encountered when first getting started:

  • Administrative challenges: At Deschutes County Mental Health, Mola said, “SAMHSA grants are daunting. They’re big. It’s certainly just being able to deal with the administrative burden it puts on every aspect of our departments. The opening up to broader groups of people offered it to people who had private health insurance. Things like just setting up the billing departments to be able to bill for all of that.”
  • Staff turnover: For HealthRIGHT 360, Espinoza said they struggled to get their team on board and encountered staffing challenges. “There were a lot of long-term staff that felt they didn’t wanna be a part of this, it was too much extra. And so staffing was a struggle that we had to overcome.” Today, HealthRIGHT 360 is stabilizing and has learned a lot from its first round of funding. Espinoza said the organization worked hard to re-obtain churned staff and obtain new staff by enhancing and strengthening their benefits packages.
  • Increased demand: For Pines Behavioral Health, Sue Germann, Chief Executive Officer, highlighted that it wasn’t the certification process that proved challenging, but the demand for services, which increased by 36% after their designation, citing, “Every service we provided had a greater need – including psychiatric. We connected with Iris right away with a virtual psychiatrist, which was invaluable.”

While these are certainly challenging, there are many benefits as well. Let’s take a look at the positive outcomes these organizations have encountered since their designation.

The benefits of CCBHC certification

While the upfront designation process may be tedious, according to our partners, the benefits of CCBHC certification are all worth it. At Pines Behavioral Health, Germann said their team was finally able to meet the wants of their community that aren’t necessarily Medicaid allowable.

After gaining designation, they were able to get more creative with what they offered. Speaking about the benefits of their designation, Germann said, “We created a health and wellness program where you didn’t have to come in and have an assessment and a treatment plan before you could have the service. You could come in and learn how physical health impacts mental health.”

She also mentioned the help they received with their 24/7 crisis team, noting, “We went from scheduling intakes to same-day access. We really made sure that we had enough staff to be able to meet that need. That helped us in terms of being able to meet the measures related to how quickly you needed to see someone.”

At HealthRIGHT 360, Espinoza and her team value the ability to help more people in their community and the flexibility the grant has given them.

Espinoza shares, “It has allowed us to assess and address the needs of our population in ways that we were not able to before. One of the initial CCBHC requirements is a community needs assessment. So, instead of taking long-established services and fitting clients into those boxes, we can really survey and obtain feedback from clients about their individual needs through their experiences and feedback. So that has been really important.”

At Deschutes County Mental Health, Mola pointed out the positive outcomes they’ve experienced, noting, “The benefits have been overall improved health outcomes. We’ve seen decreases in blood pressure, we’ve seen better managed A1C. BMI is still a tricky one, but we have seen a little bit of improvement there. So that whole-person care has driven us to decide to adopt this model permanently.”

The integration of the CCBHC model and virtual care

CCBHCs can benefit significantly from a strategic virtual behavioral health partnership. Through high-quality support, evidence-based care, and a team of highly qualified behavioral health providers, this partnership is one of the keys to finding success as a CCBHC.

Want to learn more about how the right telehealth partner can help support your CCBHC’s approach to evidence-based care? Check out our blog, How Telehealth Can Support CCBHC Quality Measures through Evidence-Based Care.

Reflecting on their organization’s approach to virtual care and partnership with Iris Telehealth, Espinoza said, “Virtual care has not gone away. That is a part of our long-term strategy. We do know some clients prefer and benefit from in-person services, but there are also clients who really do value the flexibility in their schedules to be able to participate in treatment through that platform as well.

Currently, in our CCBHC, we are offering a hybrid model of service delivery for our staff. It allows them the flexibility, and it allows the client’s flexibility to continue with treatment through our agency.”

For Deschutes County Mental Health, Chandra Mola says telehealth has been crucial to them during the provider shortage, stating, “Due to staffing shortages of psychiatrists and psych NPs, telehealth has been really important for us to have that balance. But even beyond that, as we’ve been able to hire more psychiatrists these last few years, it’s been a good thing to have a balance of in-person and telehealth. Particularly in our rural areas, because oftentimes they don’t have the means to get to clinics.”

Mola also noted how specific quality measures have improved at Deschutes, “We’ve noticed that our no-show rates improve when we have this option available. Ultimately our folks are getting service that is accessible to them and means that we can serve more people and do a better job.”

We want to thank the incredible leaders from Pines Behavioral Health, HealthRIGHT 360, and Deschutes County Mental Health for taking the time to share their valuable insights. We couldn’t be more proud to partner with you and work together to create a better world through healthy minds. Click here to watch the full webinar.

If you’d like to learn more about how Iris Telehealth can help assist your organization throughout the certification and beyond, contact us today!

Category: Blog

Iris clinicians are at the heart of what makes our organization such a special place to work. That’s why we’re turning the spotlight on the amazing work they’re doing every day. This month, we’re sitting down to talk with Dr. Carissa Cabán Alemán.

Q. How did you find Iris and decide you wanted to be an Iris provider?

A. I came across Iris because of a referral from a great friend. Her name is Dr. Marialba Romero. We attended the same medical school in Puerto Rico. I was considering telehealth in the process of readaptation instead of just finding a regular job here that required me to see patients in person, and she recommended Iris. It was the main reason why I decided to apply because she had a really good experience here.

Q. How does telehealth compare to in-person care?

A. Frankly, when I was in residency, I heard that some colleagues were practicing telepsychiatry, which was pretty new back then. I was concerned because I thought the interaction would be so different, and in some ways, it is.

But I’ve realized across the years, especially after the pandemic began, we had to transition to telehealth that it works well, and you can establish a good interaction with patients that doesn’t feel cold and detached like I thought it would when I was a resident (I was very interested in psychotherapy and psychoanalysis back then). I’ve had really strong professional relationships developed with patients over telehealth.

I’ve changed my mind a lot about it. It’s been a great experience, especially because of the convenience for the patients and us. When patients can’t commute and when they have situations, it’s much easier for them to accommodate their schedule to see us. It provides better quality of care for those who have the privilege of having internet and good access to technology because of that saving of time.

Q. How do you foster connection with patients virtually?

A. You have to focus more on listening and show that you’re making a bigger effort with non-verbal facial cues. Paying attention to the eye contact and establishing that look, instead of just writing notes or doing something else, at least in the beginning, to really demonstrate that you’re listening a little bit deeper than in person because you don’t have the full presence of the person there. That’s one of the main techniques.

Then, techniques we use for basic interviewing skills that should always be utilized, but in telehealth, are very important—for example, rephrasing, summarizing for the patient, making sure that we understand them well by repeating what they said and developing a person-centered care relationship.

I’m lucky to be trained in community psychiatry, so we focus on recovery-oriented and patient-centered care. Those skills come in handy, sometimes even more with telehealth.

Q. As a healthcare professional, how do you manage work-life balance?

A. Since working in telehealth, it’s much easier now because I had a demanding academic full-time job before I made this transition. I work with Iris part-time right now. So, I have a lot more time to develop my interests in other areas of mental health that I didn’t have the chance to explore when I was a full-time professor working at the university and seeing patients.

Working with Iris a couple of times a week gives me a flexible schedule to dive into other areas and have more time to practice mindfulness, which is very important for me, and connect with nature, which is another big priority. It wasn’t easy to find the time to be out in nature when I worked 40 hours a week or more.

It’s not only about the part-time but also the fact that I don’t have to commute. I live in a very rural place in the mountains, so I can walk on my break after lunch, or if I have a no-show or finish on time with a patient, I can take a break and go for a walk and come back. That wouldn’t have happened in my prior job. I value that a lot. It makes a big difference.

Q. What is the most rewarding part of your job?

A. Seeing the patients get better. That’s always the most rewarding part. When they tell you certain things about how their quality of life is improving, when you make that click and that connection, when empathy is felt by them in your work, and then they tell you how they’re doing or they say thank you.

One of the things that I love about this job, at least with the place where I work, is that the agency Iris connected me with is very interested in providing good quality care. They allow me enough time to provide psychotherapy and not just medication management if necessary.

I also have a lot of Spanish speaking patients that have language capacity, and those patients don’t have access to therapy where they live. I provide that in addition to medication management if necessary. I value that a lot.

It’s rewarding seeing them get better, for example, this patient was having some problems with her teenage kids, and now she’s interacting with them a lot better and feeling much more capable of enjoying her time with her family. And so that kind of thing gives me the most satisfaction.

Q. What do you love about working with Iris?

A. The capacity I have to help different populations in different places. The fact that I don’t have to commute and I can live close to my family and be here. That I have an opportunity for a solid job where I have a good quality of care and a good situation in terms of the time that I have for patients without having to commute and dress up and drive and all of that. It saves me time.

I’m also a psychiatrist working on activism and educational projects about the impact of climate change on mental health. Not commuting decreases my carbon footprint and helps me not negatively impact nature. I appreciate that a lot.

Q. Why do you think telepsychiatry is important to the future of mental healthcare?

A. It’s the way that society is functioning right now. It’s the present, and it’s not even the future anymore. It’s part of a network of resources we need to utilize to increase access to care.

It’s not perfect, and I always sincerely get concerned about the lack of access many patients still have when they don’t have a computer or a cell phone. For example, people experiencing homelessness.

Of course, we still have to provide good quality care in person, and not all patients enjoy seeing us through the camera or are capable of it. But, all of the other patients that are cognitively capable and want to see us this way it’s a huge advantage that increases access to care and quality of care.

There’s no going back. This platform will be more prevalent as we go into the future.

Q. What advice would you give someone new to telehealth?

A. Make sure that you use it as a way to establish more work-life balance, not less. Working with Iris gives you more opportunity to find ways to have a more balanced work-life schedule. So, make sure you’re doing it for that.

Then, of course, try to take your breaks. I think about physical health as well. We need to stretch and stand up. It’s also important to connect with colleagues through the grand rounds and all the opportunities that Iris gives us to connect with others doing the same work so we don’t isolate ourselves.

If we only do the work and sit in a room the whole day, it can be a little bit isolating if we don’t use the company’s resources and other resources like connecting locally with professional associations and, of course, with our friends and family.

At Iris, we believe our providers should be respected, valued, and applauded for the work they do, and we couldn’t be more proud to say, “thank you” to our very own Dr. Carissa Cabán Alemán. If you’d like to learn more about working for Iris Telehealth, contact us today.

Category: Blog

Quick links
Symptoms of compassion fatigue
How telehealth helps mental health providers combat compassion fatigue
Self-care tips for providers facing compassion fatigue
Compassion fatigue during the holidays
Where Iris Telehealth fits in

As a behavioral health provider, you’re on the front lines of America’s mental health crisis. But prioritizing self-care isn’t always easy, and working in mental health care can make you vulnerable to things like compassion fatigue.

So, what is compassion fatigue? Compassion fatigue can increase emotional intensity, decrease cognitive ability, and create a chronic activation of your stress response. Compassion fatigue can also contribute to provider burnout.

Fortunately, there are ways to prevent compassion fatigue and recognize signs early.

Symptoms of compassion fatigue

Developing compassion fatigue can create cognitive dissonance, causing you to do and say things that don’t align with your values. If you’ve experienced disconnection like this, it’s important to recognize that these behaviors aren’t coming from a place of malice – it might just mean you’re dysregulated.

Here are a few emotional and physical signs you might be experiencing compassion fatigue:

  • Isolation: If you’re experiencing compassion fatigue, you might find yourself pulling back from people who don’t work in the same field because they may not understand your experience.
  • Physical exhaustion: When you walk out of a psychiatric unit, do you feel like you have debilitating fatigue? This feeling might be compassion fatigue. On the physical side, you might also experience sleep and appetite disturbances.
  • On-the-job challenges: Working with behavioral health patients requires emotional regulation. Compassion fatigue can increase emotional intensity and decrease cognitive ability.

To view a complete list of compassion fatigue symptoms, visit The American Institute of Stress’s website for more information.

If these symptoms sound like something you’re experiencing, you’re not alone. Thankfully, there are actions and solutions that can make your ability to do what you love easier.

How telehealth helps mental health providers combat compassion fatigue

One of the ways compassion fatigue can happen is by absorbing trauma, or experiencing what’s called secondary trauma. For example, as a provider, you may have one person come in and tell you stories about hard things they have experienced, they leave, and then the next person comes in and tells you their difficult stories. In turn, you may be absorbing this trauma.

Fortunately, virtual care modalities like telepsychiatry and teletherapy can help.

Here are a few benefits of remote behavioral health work:

  • A barrier to stress: The computer screen facilitates a bit of protection that allows providers to create more distance between themselves and their work. The screen provides a barrier allowing providers to make more informed choices from logic, rather than from emotion.
  • Safe, comfortable environment: Because you’re in your own home and space, you have more control over how you’re spending your time in between clients or after your appointments. Those regular on-site stressors are removed from your daily life and you’re in your safe space. However, it’s also important to be mindful of any stressors you might pull into your space. Taking a mindful approach when transitioning from work to life is essential.
  • No more commutes: When you don’t have to worry about an extensive commute, you can spend more time doing what you love. Working from home makes transitions into your personal life easier and creates more opportunity to relax, take meaningful breaks, and keep a more manageable pace in your day-to-day life.
  • Top notch support: At Iris Telehealth, we help ensure our providers have everything they need to thrive, not only in their work lives, but in their personal lives, too. That’s why we encourage our clinicians to take breaks throughout the day, provide a generous PTO policy, and ensure they get matched with an organization that aligns with their needs and values.

Want to learn more about life as a remote provider? Check out our Clinician Corner series to hear first-hand experiences from Iris’s own behavioral health clinicians.

Self-care tips for providers facing compassion fatigue

We’ve seen first-hand how compassion fatigue can lead to burnout in mental health professionals. What are you doing to help yourself get back to your baseline after you sign off for the day?

Here are our top four actions you can take to prioritize self-care:

  1. Practice mindfulness: Exercises like meditation, mindful walking, and gratitude can play a big role in helping you steer clear of compassion fatigue. You can also try setting aside dedicated time for deep breathing. For example, when your computer is booting up in the morning, let this process act as a queue to take four deep breaths. This technique can help you re-center yourself and prepare for the day.
  2. Get active and eat well: Find a way to move your body every day – whether that’s a five minute walk, an hour long workout, or more mini breaks throughout your day. It’s also important to make sure you get outside for at least five minutes every day and fuel your body with things you know are going to help you feel better, like eating a balanced diet.
  3. Seek out support: Having a community to lean on is essential to your well-being. This strategy can be met by joining a support group or talking with a person in your life who understands what you’re experiencing and can empathize and sympathize with you. Investing in therapy is also a good option for providers in the mental health space.
  4. Delegate responsibility: You don’t have to take on the world alone. Delegating responsibility and finding people you can ask to help is key. For example, is there someone who can help out with housekeeping? Or, someone who can help out with school pick-up? Figuring out where you can pull in help can be a game changer.

Compassion fatigue during the holidays

Compassion fatigue doesn’t take a break during the holidays, but it does provide a good opportunity to check-in. Here are a few things to keep in mind as we approach the holidays season.

As we head into the holiday season, ask yourself the following questions:

  • Are you using your break to look for a new job?
  • Are you finding it difficult to meaningfully connect with loved ones?
  • Do you have a lack of desire to do what you love?
  • Are you overindulging in things like alcohol or food? These can be used to mask what you’re actually feeling.
  • Are you using your time off to sleep instead of doing things you love?

If you answered “yes” to most of the questions above, you might be experiencing compassion fatigue. If this sounds like you, consider the following:

  • Create a plan to completely turn off during the holidays, and create a separation between yourself and your work
  • Create a plan to reset – close your computer down and move your chair away from your desk, or close the door on your office to create separation for yourself
  • Do something that brings you joy and find a way to connect with someone else
    Say no and set boundaries
  • Download the Calm app, check out online workout videos like Yoga with Adrienne, or try out some new mindfulness techniques from Positive Psychology

Where Iris Telehealth fits in

At Iris, we believe our providers should be applauded and celebrated for their work. That’s why we help ensure they have what they need to succeed – less paperwork, a low-stress environment, and great benefits. Want to learn more about what life at Iris looks like? Contact us today! We have opportunities available now for psychiatrists, PMHNPs, and LCSWs.

Category: Blog

Telepsychiatry is a great way to improve access to care for your patients, but how do you know if it would be a good fit for your health system? Before you make a decision, there are several components you should consider, like what care models would be most beneficial for your organization, how to ensure the right provider fit, and what to look for in a behavioral health partner.

If you’re looking to integrate a virtual behavioral health solution into your organization, keep reading to learn what you need to know to make an informed decision.

Key considerations for your telepsychiatry program

While jump-starting a telepsychiatry program might seem intimidating, it’s easier than you might think. Often, an organization’s hesitation comes from not knowing how telepsychiatry will fit into their current systems or workflows. However, this virtual solution has three components that can help deepen understanding.

Virtual care mirrors on-site care: Fortunately, a good virtual care solution reflects on-site patient care in nearly every way — regardless of setting.

Integration is vital: The proper workflows paired with consistent, simple technology can help virtual providers integrate seamlessly into your organization’s care team and systems. At Iris Telehealth, our providers use the same EMR as the on-site staff. This approach reduces disruption in communication between the care team and improves continuity of care for the patient. It also allows the Iris provider to establish and cultivate strong relationships with staff and patients.

Simple and effective technology: Before launching your telepsychiatry program, it’s essential to test out your IT solutions, train staff, and perform dry-runs. Connectivity issues, poor network speeds, and complicated software and hardware often cause disruptions that affect the patient’s experience. That’s where the right partner comes in. For example, at Iris, we help ensure everything is set-up and ready-to-go before appointments begin. The ultimate goal is for the technology to fade into the background during the appointment.

Next, we’ll take a look at the different behavioral health care models that can be delivered via telehealth.

Virtual care services for health systems and hospitals

There are several behavioral health services that can be delivered via telehealth. Here are a few that we make available at Iris Telehealth:

Bridge Care Services: Bridge Care Services provides a clinician-guided, evidence-based navigation assessment that directs patients to the most appropriate next level of care, delivers effective short-term behavioral health care, and facilitates a closed-loop handoff to the optimal longitudinal provider to address the gaps in care across the continuum.

On-Demand Services: On-Demand Services delivers 24/7 behavioral health care to increase throughput in your ED, reduce unnecessary admissions, and limit the revisit rate of behavioral health patients. These services provide access to a multi-disciplinary provider pod that will assess your behavioral health patients and consult with your on-site ED care team to get those patients dispositioned as quickly as possible.

Scheduled Services: This solution delivers access to consistent, high-quality providers dedicated to your health system (including individual hospitals and outpatient clinics) on a consistent schedule each week – ensuring a predictable coverage model for organizations. Investing in Scheduled Services means you have a dedicated provider who integrates with your team and allows your on-site providers to focus on what they do best and work at the top of their licenses.

If you’d like to learn more about these services, download our whitepaper exclusively for hospitals and health systems.

The patient’s perspective on virtual behavioral health care

Technology has become an integral part of our daily lives, and virtual care has become the norm. Studies show that 59% of people would use telehealth for mental healthcare, and by 2029 behavioral health visits are expected to increase by 50%.

Most people are comfortable video chatting to keep in touch with friends and family members. Telemedicine isn’t different from these virtual interactions many of us have daily. But, a successful telehealth interaction involves a provider who excels at connecting with people over the video, a unique skill that not everyone has.

It can also be beneficial to ask your patients what they want directly and use this information to make a decision. Ultimately, the benefits for patients are significant. Telepsychiatry allows patients to get timely, high-quality psychiatric care facilitated by providers who are experts in assessing patient needs. Psychiatric care in a virtual environment helps patients get treated as quickly as possible as opposed to waiting for long hours in a busy waiting room.

How to find the right provider

It’s important to note that not every excellent doctor is a fantastic telehealth provider. In fact, it takes a unique and robust skillset to make a superb telepsychiatry provider. Here are a few things to keep in mind when looking for the right provider fit.

First, telepsychiatrists should be flexible. If something changes in their day to day, they should be comfortable going with the flow. Next, personability is essential for fostering patient comfort and connecting in a virtual environment. Given the nature of remote work, it’s also vital that they’re good communicators. Most importantly, they need to fit into your culture and have a shared belief in your values and mission.

Second, finding the right provider match can be challenging. That’s why it’s essential to work with a partner who can connect you with the right match. At Iris, we have a rigorous vetting process that ensures all our behavioral health providers are top quality and have a track record of providing exceptional care. We call this process, The Iris Match, and it’s our promise to you that we will ensure your Iris provider will meet your organization’s needs, culture, and values.

To learn more about this approach, download our guide, “How to Find the Best Telemental Health Provider for Your Organization.”

The key to identifying the right behavioral health partner

So, what does the right behavioral health partner look like? There are four key components you should check off your list before making a decision to partner with a virtual behavioral health solution.

  1. Do they facilitate provider matching solutions? At Iris, we draw from a large pool of highly vetted clinicians to help ensure organizations are connected to the provider type they need – whether that’s an MD, PMHNP, LCSW, or LPC.
  2. Are they Joint Commission accredited? Since 2019, Iris Telehealth has been certified for the Joint Commission for behavioral health. This accreditation speaks to our commitment to quality care.
  3. Do they offer quality support beyond connecting you to providers? For example, licensing and credentialing, day-to-day support, and help executing behavioral health strategies.
  4. Are they medical group led? We were founded by a child psychiatrist and have an expert group of medical leadership that offers guidance and recommendations to ensure your organization uses your telehealth solution to your best advantage.

If you can check all these off your list, there’s a good chance you’ve found a strategic behavioral health partner who can help you secure long-term success for your organization and patients.

Is telepsychiatry right for you?

Telepsychiatry can work in almost any setting and can be a great solution to improving patient care all while creating more efficient systems for your organization. At Iris Telehealth we make implementing a telepsychiatry solution a seamless process for health systems. If you’d like to learn more, contact us today.

Category: Blog

Provider retention is always top of mind for healthcare organizations – especially during a provider shortage. Thankfully, there are steps you can take to set your organization up for success and retain the incredible providers that join your team. In this blog, we’ll review best practices, tips, and strategies you can implement to help improve employee retention in healthcare.

Challenges organizations face with provider retention

According to data from the Health Resources & Services Administration, 164 million people live in a mental health professional shortage area, and more than 8,000 mental health professionals are needed to meet the demand for care.

Mental health professionals have more flexibility to change jobs because the need for their services is so high. In fact, a new report from Hospital & Healthcare Compensation Service (HCS) surveyed 426 behavioral health facilities and found an average 27% turnover rate across all positions, with a vacancy rate of 14%.

So, what can healthcare organizations do to find providers? And, once they’ve found the right provider, how can they make sure they’re happy long-term? Let’s take a look at a few best practices they can implement at their organization.

Strategies to retain mental health professionals

Helping ensure providers are supported is one of the keys to recruitment and retention in healthcare. This supportive approach can start from the very beginning. For example, it’s essential to provide benefits and compensation aligned with the demands of the community where they live and the cost of living.

Additionally, one of the most significant contributors to attrition in the mental health space is compassion fatigue and burnout. As behavioral health clinicians regularly hear stories of trauma, which can cause secondary trauma for them. So, ensuring your providers are supported and have someone they can talk to can be very beneficial. If your provider is in a virtual environment, helping them connect with onsite or other virtual colleagues is especially helpful.

For instance, leveraging an internal messaging platform, along with regularly scheduled meetings can help support your clinicians and keep them engaged. It’s crucial that clinicians feel included in the day-to-day and that they have a connection to one another.

In addition to these strategies, there are a few tried and true best practices you can implement to help create a positive experience for your providers.

Best practices to improve provider retention

At Iris Telehealth, we’ve found that creating a supportive environment for providers has been key to provider retention.

Here are a few of the best practices we’ve put in place to help secure long-term matches:

  • Thorough clinical recruitment process: From the beginning, our clinical hiring team gets to know our clinicians – their preferences, values, and needs. That way, we can help ensure they find an organization that’s the best fit for them. That also means we get to know our partner organizations very well. Through our clinical recruitment process, called The Iris Match, we work to make the best matches possible, so the provider and the organization they work for are set-up for long-term success.
  • Effective communication: Our clinical operations managers (COMs) at Iris help ensure our providers always have someone to call and know how important they are. This team serves as their advocates, addressing any and all needs a provider may have. At the same time, COMs help our partners ensure their long-term relationship with the provider is successful by helping facilitate effective collaboration and communication.
  • Licensing and credentialing: Another impactful best practice we implement is help with licensing and credentialing. Our medical staff services (MSS) team effectively licenses and credentials all Iris providers and gives providers and partners the most efficient, proactive, and trouble-free experience during onboarding and throughout the relationship. By taking care of this part of the puzzle, providers can focus on doing what they do best – providing quality patient care.
  • Quality benefits: Ensuring our providers have what they need in terms of compensation and benefits is crucial. That’s why we offer our providers the option of a W2 or 1099, whatever fits their lifestyle. We also offer continuing education funds, an office expense account, and a good health insurance plan.

Leveraging these multiple layers of support helps increase provider satisfaction, and ultimately helps increase retention as well. Let’s dive a little deeper into the importance of matching the right clinician with the right healthcare organization.

Finding the right provider match and securing long-term care

Quality matches ensure a long-term fit. That’s why we take making quality matches seriously. Here are a few insights we have implemented into The Iris Match.

  • In every scoping call with an organization, we review technical questions like appointment times, population seen, and diagnoses.
  • We ask what’s unique about your population or what would be essential to know.
  • We ask about desired soft skills, personality, or what the organizations have liked about some of their long-term providers so we can identify similar qualities.

At Iris, we’ve found that it’s not just a matter of a skill fit as much as it’s a will fit. We’re proud to match providers with organizations where they feel aligned and supported.

Where Iris fits in

At Iris, we take retention seriously – from the first interview all the way through the interview. We highly value creating amazing experiences for providers and organizations.

If you’d like to learn more about The Iris Match, or learn if we can help you find a clinician who your patients and providers will love, contact us today.

Category: Blog

Iris clinicians are at the heart of what makes our organization such a special place to work. That’s why we’re turning the spotlight on the amazing work they’re doing every day. This month, we’re sitting down to talk with Dr. Iype.

Q. How did you find Iris and decide you wanted to be an Iris provider?

A. Dr. Milam was my attending physician when I did my residency at Carilion Clinic in Roanoke, Virginia. I knew he was starting up something called Iris. Then, later on, after I graduated from residency, I was looking into telehealth options, and I saw Iris. It never linked until later after residency that, “Oh my goodness, this is what Dr. Milam was talking about!” It was natural to reach out to him and ask whether I would be a good fit.

Personal connections are how I usually learn about jobs. I trusted Dr. Milam to tell me about Iris; it sounded like a good fit.

Q. How does telepsychiatry compare to in-person care?

A. My first job was crisis walk-in and telehealth, too. I did a combo where I still had to go to the facility and do telehealth. Comparatively speaking, I live in the Maryland area, and it took me an hour to get to work. In terms of work-life balance, it’s amazing that I get to be present at work when I need to be at work and at home when I need to be at home. And there’s no in-between fluff of transportation or anything. That’s my biggest thing is the fluff isn’t there. When I’m with my patients, I’m with my patients. Then, when I’m with my family, I’m with my family.

Q. How do you foster connection with patients virtually?

A. I tell them what to expect. When I first start an interview, I ask them, “Hey, are you familiar with this kind of technology?” Some are, some are not. Then I equate it to something they’re familiar with, like FaceTime. I’ll say, “It’s similar to FaceTime, but this is more of a professional setting where you get to meet with your doctor.” Then I tell them the pros and cons. I lay it out there because most of the time, they’re very grateful they can see a specialist because of where I provide care. I provide care in Michigan, where specialists are few and far between.

A lot of patients do well with that. I have some people who will wait for me. I try not to be late, but they say, “It’s worth waiting for Dr. Iype.” That connection is there. Usually, because you listen and you’re attentive to details, people forget that there is a screen or a certain amount of miles, and they probably have to get on a plane to be in the same state as their physician.

Q. As a healthcare professional, how do you manage work-life balance?

A. I always say it’s a work in progress. I have two small kids. One is three, and the other just turned one. Home life is hectic in terms of their needs, but telehealth provides that work-life balance for me, and I don’t spend an hour commuting. I am as present as I can be with my kids when I’m there and with my patients as much as I can be when I’m there. The work-life balance is there because I’ve removed that commute time, which is important to me at this point in my career. I try to get into hobbies or be as connected to hobbies as much as possible, like reading and doing the things I enjoy on the side. My work allows for that flexibility.

Q. What is the most rewarding part of your job?

A. Change is very slow. For psychiatry, you don’t necessarily get that gratification of stitching up a wound. That immediate gratification isn’t there. It’s change over time. That might happen over years, months, and decades – to have patients succeed. It can be just from the fact that they’re able to go back to work or they’re able to go and do something that they were not able to do, interact more with friends or family. I get to be part of that journey. That change might not be so obvious the first time I met them or maybe even a year later. But the change I see is very gratifying in the length of time it took for that patient to get there.

It’s amazing. I love looking back at cases and seeing how far they’ve come, and I’ll mention it, and you get to share in that joy. An ER doc stitches up a wound; that’s great, it’s gratifying. It’s very physical, but my job entails more of a slower process, and I find that very gratifying because that’s almost longer lasting. It’s neat to see how far patients have come, and I get that continuity of seeing that.

It’s amazing to see the dynamics of growth, and growth happens slowly. Some patients become sober or quit smoking or do something where they’ll come back and tell you, “It’s that one conversation we had.” We might not think much of it, but that really stuck with them for some reason. They’ll say, “Dr. Iype, you mentioned I should stop smoking, and I actually did.” I say that to 50 patients, and probably two listen – that’s awesome. You might not have that conversation in the emergency room or someplace as fast-paced. I enjoy that it’s a little bit slower, maybe not as quick as other specialties, and objectively seeing things. But overall, I think there are incremental small, minute changes that are amazing and very impactful.

Q. What do you love about working with Iris?

A. They’re extremely efficient. Working for community mental health, if there’s an EMR-related question, I have to ask the organization’s IT team, and the efficiency and responsiveness may not be there. Iris is not the same — Iris is extremely responsive and very efficient. They are looking at, “Hey, how can I improve your workflow to make your life easier?” That is their motto, and they try to strive to live by it. Danielle Swanson, my Clinical Operation Manager (COM), checks in and asks, “Is your equipment up to date? Is there an extra camera that I can give you?” They’re looking for, “Is the doc doing what she loves? Which is seeing patients. Or is her time being spent trying to fix the camera?”

They work on making sure that I’m spending my time doing what I love. That is why I love Iris. I can text Danielle, call, and set up a meeting, and she checks in with me. The COMs are amazing. They’re lifelines and very helpful. IT is amazing. I know both sides because I work in the community mental health part, where they might struggle with efficiency and, sometimes, responsiveness. In contrast, Iris is quite the opposite, which is refreshing.

They’re like magicians or wizards. I’m like, “Danielle, I don’t know who to talk to,” and they make it happen. I’m like, “wizardry,” that’s what it is. Many places do not have COMs or people interested in making sure that you are doing what you want to do, which is seeing patients and not necessarily worrying about technical issues or tickets. That’s amazing. I’m working with wizards and magicians, and superheroes. That’s what I enjoy about working with Iris as opposed to somewhere else.

Q. Why do you think telepsychiatry is important to the future of mental healthcare?

A. Access to care. I work in Clair County, Michigan, and psychiatrists are not accessible. Small communities of people access mental health care through telehealth, and that’s it. These places are full of need, yet they don’t have a physician servicing that need other than through telehealth. It is vital in providing care to people that need it. It gives the physician flexibility to not necessarily live in that state but be able to provide much-needed care. There’s gratitude on the patient’s end for that access to care. And then there’s the gratitude of the physician having the flexibility to live where they want. It’s a win-win, and access to care is the most important piece.

Q. What advice would you give someone new to telehealth?

A. It’s most likely that you’ll never go back. If there’s a lot of fluff and other things taking you away from work, adding time to get to work, or barriers to being present at home, then telehealth is an option for you. It removed about two hours of my day going back and forth to work. If you’re looking for something that removes ‘the extra,’ I call it, then it’s something you should consider. It provides that work-life balance that a lot of people are seeking. When I turn on my computer, I immediately access my patients. When I turn off my computer, I have immediate access to my friends and my family.

What I love and wish and hope for someone who starts telehealth is that they can do what they love both in their personal lives and their career. I don’t think there’s any going back. There’s that flexibility. Iris is pretty awesome about being flexible with the hours and all of that. It’s awesome if you’re looking for something on the side or something else. It’s great.

At Iris, we believe our providers should be respected, valued, and applauded for the work they do, and we couldn’t be more proud to say, “thank you” to our very own Dr. Iype. If you’d like to learn more about working for Iris Telehealth, contact us today.

Category: Blog

At Iris, we’re proud to provide high-quality support to healthcare organizations nationwide. This support takes many shapes, from our COMs, who help ensure providers are set up for success, to our CAEs, who help organizations deliver on their behavioral health strategy – our multiple layers of support help improve our partner’s and provider’s experience.

That’s why we’re excited to share another essential component of support we provide – our Medical Staff Services (MSS) team! Keep reading to learn how this team helps ensure all licensing and telehealth credentialing is seamless and efficient for providers and partners.

The mission of the MSS team

If you’re a healthcare organization or a behavioral health provider, you understand all the work that goes into licensing and credentialing. There’s a lot to juggle, whether it’s keeping up with unique licensure requirements, filling out paperwork, or renewing licenses. That’s what makes the MSS team so special – they take care of it all.

The MSS team effectively licenses and credentials all Iris providers and gives providers and partners the most efficient, proactive, and trouble-free experience during onboarding and throughout the relationship.

This team helps ensure our partners and their patients have timely access to high-quality, thoroughly vetted providers who can focus on patient care without administrative burden. Through this team’s expertise in the healthcare field and their relationship-building skills, they help meet the needs of both providers and healthcare organizations.

Helping clinicians focus on providing excellent care

The MSS team takes a lot off of a provider’s plate. Once our clinicians provide their personal information, the MSS team takes it from there managing the licensing process, filling out credentialing applications, facilitating insurance enrollments, and more! That way, the provider can focus on doing their job instead of on clerical tasks. Because of this team’s expertise, they comprehensively understand everything that goes into an application and can complete the process efficiently and thoroughly.

Additionally, this team monitors files daily to ensure licensing and credentialing are on track, renew providers’ licenses, and verify everything they’re currently doing, along with work history and licensing.

This team is an invaluable resource to our clinicians and helps them do what they do best – provide the best care possible to patients all over the country.
Additionally, helping providers get licensed and credentialed proactively and efficiently translates to patients getting the care they need more quickly. It also means providers are set up properly and they can get started facilitating care without any issues.

This team helps address unexpected hurdles that come from working with providers from different states, meaning the organization doesn’t have to worry about doing additional leg work on their end.

Key accomplishments

The MSS team helps keep everything running smoothly, and ensures our providers, and partners have what they need.

Here are a few of their key accomplishments:

  • The MSS teams has grown from 3 to 14 MSS team members from 2020 to 2023
  • Provides licensing and credentialing for PMHNPs, physicians, LCSWs, and LMFTs – in the near term, they will begin licensing and credentialing LPCs
  • In the second half of 2022, the MSS team implemented a new credentialing platform, CredStream, to optimize our workflows and tracking

At Iris, we couldn’t be more proud of all the amazing work this team does day in and day out to support our partners, providers, and patients.

Learn more about the support Team Iris provides

If you’d like to learn more about how our MSS team can help support your organization, contact us today!

Additionally, if you’d like to learn more about the support our CAE or COMs teams provide, check out our other spotlights here:

At Iris, we’re proud to provide a variety of support that help operations run smoothly and efficiently to hospitals and community health organizations all over the country.

Category: Blog

CCBHCs are required to meet a strict set of quality measures. Fortunately, they don’t have to do it alone. With the help of a strategic telehealth partner, these organizations are better positioned to maintain CCBHC accreditation through high-quality support, evidence-based care, and a team of virtual providers.

In this blog, we’ll walk through how telehealth can provide top-notch support and help CCBHCs in their evidence-based approach to care.

Quality measures and challenges CCBHCs may face

CCBHCs serve as a lifeline for their communities – ensuring high-quality care across the lifespan regardless of age, diagnosis, or insurance status. However, providing this level of service is no easy feat. CCBHCs must follow strict measures like 24/7 crisis services and care coordination and have enough clinicians on staff to support their operations. Additionally, tracking and examining their quality measures is essential to maintaining CCBHC accreditation.

Fortunately, that’s where a strategic behavioral health partner can help by matching CCBHCs with specialty mental health providers to support their populations and on-site providers while helping them track and examine their quality measures.

Let’s take a look at how telehealth can be leveraged in a virtual environment and provide evidence-based care.

What evidence-based care looks like in a virtual environment

Leveraging a telehealth solution can promote quality and evidence-based care by increasing the pool of specialty providers available to a CCBHC. For example, telehealth can help connect an organization with a provider with expertise in evidence-based treatment, whether an LCSW specializing in cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) or a PMHNP or psychiatrist specializing in substance use treatment.

At Iris Telehealth, we leverage a process called, The Iris Match. This approach is our way of helping ensure an organization gets connected to a provider who aligns with their values, can provide the care their population needs, and is someone providers, and patients love. To learn more about this approach, check out our downloadable “A Healthcare Organization’s Guide to Provider Matching.”

Additionally, the right strategic partner will also look at quality measures alongside the CCBHC. As a Joint Commission-accredited organization, Iris prioritizes reviewing quality measures, including chart and peer reviews. Subsequently, we develop and implement educational initiatives and quality measures based on these reviews. We also collect data for quality measures such as time for initial appointment improvement on PHQ-9s, and our quality team partners with the CCBHC to aggregate the data for our providers, analyze it, and work on quality improvement.

The benefits of working with a quality-focused telehealth partner

Now that we’ve taken a look at what evidence-based care looks like in a virtual environment, let’s explore a few high-level ways the right telehealth partner can benefit a CCBHC’s quality initiatives.

Here are the benefits of a comprehensive telehealth solution:

  • Expansive staffing: Telehealth allows your organization to expand beyond your local community and into a bigger pool of therapists, nurse practitioners, and psychiatrists.
  • Aggregation of quality measures: The right partner can help you aggregate data and compare it to national benchmarks, discuss current partner metrics, and look at quality improvement initiatives together.
  • Access to specialists: Whether you need children and adolescents specialists, bilingual providers, or a clinician who specializes in substance use, telehealth grants access to these providers regardless of your geographic location.
  • Medical group leadership: Working with a seasoned partner allows you to tap into their knowledge base, industry expertise, advice, and schedule regular idea sharing sessions to ensure you’re up to date on the most recent evidence-based practices.
  • Robust support: Your partner may deliver supplementary support like a credentialing team, clinical operations manager, and IT assistance. This additional layer of support allows your organization to continue doing what you do best and minimizes any disruption during the onboarding process.

To learn more about the benefits working with a quality-focused telehealth partner, download our guide here.

Evidence-based care in action

Swope Health is a Federally Qualified Health Center (FQHC) and CCBHC serving the greater Kansas City area, providing a team-based integrated care approach personalized to their population’s needs.

Unfortunately, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, they struggled to find the right provider match for their population. They began facing new challenges with recruiting, and their former hiring strategies weren’t working anymore – that’s when they reached out to Iris for help.

Iris worked closely with the team at Swope and found the perfect provider match who integrated seamlessly into their care team. Since bringing teletherapy to their community, Swope has seen show rates increase by 5%. They’ve also been able to reduce their patient waiting lists substantially.

We’re proud to have helped Swope meet these quality measures and help more people get the care they need. Click here to read their full story.

Where Iris Telehealth fits in

At Iris, we see the amazing work CCBHCs are doing each day, and we couldn’t be more proud to help provide quality care to their populations. That’s why we’re holding a webinar exclusively for CCBHCs on September 14, 1:00-2:00 p.m. CT.

In this live webinar, leaders from CCBHCs across the country will share their journey to certification, how the CCBHC model works for them, and the steps they’re taking to meet the quality measures necessary to maintain CCBHC accreditation and improve health outcomes.

Want to hold your seat? Click here to sign-up for the webinar!

Additionally, if you’d like to learn more about how working with the right strategic behavioral health partner can improve your CCBHC’s approach to quality care, contact us today.

Category: Blog

Access to high-quality substance-use disorder treatment has never been more important. The opioid epidemic continues to grow and impact more and more lives, families, and communities across the country. And, healthcare organizations must include some form of medication-assisted treatment (MAT) services for patients with substance use disorders and those seeking addiction treatment.

However, building an effective MAT program at your organization doesn’t have to involve a massive overhaul of your organization’s services. Working with a dedicated telepsychiatry or behavioral health partner can help if you’re just getting started and enable you to better expand your program to meet the growing needs of your community.

Note: This piece will focus on building a standard Office-Based Opioid Treatment program (OBOT) rather than a more intensive Opioid Treatment Program (OTP). If you’re hoping to learn more about providing OTP services, including methadone clinics, check out our full whitepaper on building an MAT program.

Building an MAT program from scratch

Generally speaking, you’ll want to build out an OBOT program if you’re planning on prescribing Suboxone to treat patients with opioid-use disorders (OUDs). An OBOT program will allow prescribers with an X waiver to prescribe schedule III, IV, and V controlled substances to help treat those patients.

If that kind of treatment would be a good fit for your patients, make sure to keep in mind these key considerations when building your program:

    • Any providers participating in your OBOT program (i.e., prescribing these controlled substances, including Suboxone/buprenorphine) will need an X waiver. If your current providers don’t have their X waiver, they can undergo training from the DEA and apply for their waiver.
    • While your provider is receiving the appropriate training for their X waiver, your organization can start building what your OBOT program would look like. Alternatively, you can hire a provider who has their X waiver and specialized experience working with patients experiencing OUD who can help support your program. Remember, working with a strategic behavioral health partner can expand your access to highly qualified providers for your program.
    • To have a Suboxone program, you need to be able to refer patients to a counselor. If you don’t have internal counseling services available, you should have a formalized referral relationship with another provider or organization in your community that does.
    • Plan on having clinic staff available on-site to monitor patients when they start their first day of Suboxone.
    • When starting patients on Suboxone, you may initially have them come in once a week. Then you will likely see them once every three months for maintenance.
    • Your OBOT program will have record-keeping requirements that your organization must meet. You’ll need to comply with 42 CFR, a federal regulation requiring an additional standard of privacy than typical HIPAA requirements. You will need to keep a log of all patients currently (or previously) prescribed Suboxone. Generally, you can keep these records in your standard EMR.

Challenges and opportunities you might face

The number one challenge your healthcare organization will likely face is dealing with stigma. People with substance use disorders are often the victims of stigma, stereotypes, negative portrayals in the media, and preconceived notions around what those disorders look like.

However, there are steps you can take to overcome that challenge, and it all starts with education:

  1. Educate your staff: Provide comprehensive education to your team. Include an overview of medications (including medications like naltrexone, which doesn’t require any special licensing or certifications for prescribers). An MAT program doesn’t have to mean a methadone clinic. MAT services can be easily and seamlessly incorporated into the work your team is already doing.
  2. Educate your community: It will be essential to educate your community on what substance use disorders are (and what they aren’t) and that they do not discriminate based on social status, economic status, race, or background.
  3. Educate your patients: Spread the word. Let your patients know about the value of your MAT services, regardless of whether they have a documented SUD. Current patients may serve as an excellent referral source for community members in need of treatment.

Remember, the most significant benefit of building an MAT program is providing a valuable service to your community that will save lives.

Finding the right provider for your program

As you build out your program, it’s important to ensure you hire the right provider for your patient population, the kind of substance use disorders you treat, and your organization’s culture.

Here are some best practices for finding the right provider for your MAT program:

  • Make sure your provider has dedicated experience treating substance use disorders and is familiar with a wide range of treatment options.
  • If your organization serves patients experiencing opioid use disorders and plans on prescribing Suboxone, you should only consider providers with their X waiver or willing to get their X waiver.
  • Look for providers who have worked with patients like yours and understand the particular challenges they face.
  • If your organization is in a rural or underserved community, consider utilizing a strategic behavioral health partner to open up your provider pool.

Leverage partners to support telehealth MAT program offerings

Fortunately, you don’t have to build out your MAT program by yourself. Behavioral health partners like Iris Telehealth can be valuable resources to help your healthcare organization source and vet potential behavioral health providers for your program.

Here are some benefits to using a partner to develop an effective MAT telehealth program:

  • Leveraging partnerships that utilize telepsychiatry or virtual care will allow you to access high-quality providers from across the country who have their X waiver and can prescribe Suboxone.
  • Through a dedicated partner relationship, your organization can draw on the expertise and experience of organizations and providers who have been through this exact process and have seen effective MAT programs in action.
  • A behavioral health partner will be able to support the long-term, sustainable growth of your telehealth MAT program. This support will decrease the burden of recruitment and program implementation on your team.

If you’ve encountered challenges finding highly qualified providers in your area, we strongly recommend considering telehealth as an option to help you better serve your community.

Some key resources to get started

Countless clinics and healthcare organizations have successfully navigated this process, and you will be able to benefit from their guidance and experience. You can also on some helpful resources in the early stages of building your program.

Some resources to start with include:

Then, if you’re planning on utilizing strategic partnerships or telepsychiatry to build up your program or source highly qualified providers, Iris Telehealth can help your organization through that process. If you want to learn more about getting started, contact us today or download our comprehensive whitepaper on building an effective MAT program for more information.

Category: Blog

Iris clinicians are at the heart of what makes our organization such a special place to work. That’s why we’re turning the spotlight on the amazing work they’re doing every day. This month, we’re sitting down to talk with Dr. Kavita Vasu.

Q. How did you find Iris and decide you wanted to be an Iris provider?

A. I found Iris basically by doing an internet search. For a while, I was fascinated with telepsychiatry and wanted to try it, but at that time, I had a medical situation and could not physically go to work. I knew telehealth would be a good option for me. This was before the pandemic even started. I didn’t even look for other companies. I reached out, and it was a seamless process. I’ve been working with Iris ever since.

Q. How does telepsychiatry compare to in-person work?

A. In-person work, you get some extra information because you can see the patient walk into the office. But with telepsych, a nurse can always give me this additional information that I cannot get. That’s really helpful. There are times when there are aggressive patients, and you can see their mood escalates. There are many times when I felt, “Thank God that I’m on the other side where I’m safe,” and I don’t have to worry about being physically attacked. There are other differences where if it’s a child, I can engage with them in play better in person.

Overall, with telepsych, the no-show rates are significantly lower because people can access them from wherever they are at home or work. Sometimes, instead of taking the whole day off for a medical visit, people can take their appointment from work and go to another quiet place. Or even college students can take calls from their university. I feel like telepsych, in that respect, gives more flexibility to a patient.

For underserved communities, they may have waited months for a specialty provider or had to travel somewhere else. Telepsychiatry bridges that gap, where they can see a specialist sooner and don’t have to travel as much. It’s nice that people in those communities can be served through telepsychiatry.

Q. How do you foster connection with patients virtually?

A. It requires a different approach for children and adults. It’s easier with adults because now people use technology so much for communication, whether in meetings or calling their families in different countries. There has been less of a challenge with adults and teenagers. Teenagers love being in the virtual world, and many of them are more comfortable with virtual care. When I saw patients in the office, teenagers took a lot of time to warm up and share information. But because this is a platform they use so often socially, it’s the norm for them, and they find they open up so much faster.

To them, it feels like they’re talking to a friend. Their ability to share is quick. That has helped foster connection. If I notice a reservation about it or they’re nervous, I get them to talk about it. I always ask, “How do you feel about using telepsychiatry?” They will tell me what reservations they have. I will acknowledge and validate that and say, “Yes, I understand that, but I’ll do my best to help make this smooth for you.” And the guard drops just from that.

I make sure I’m making good eye contact and less time just looking at the computer to fill out stuff, so they feel that I’m engaging with them. And then, once the connection has been established, it is easier to move forward.

Q. As a healthcare professional, how do you manage work-life balance?

A. It’s easier to manage work-life balance when you’re doing telepsychiatry. People often feel, “I’m doing this from home so I can make my notes later.” And I want to make sure that I don’t practice that habit because you remember so much better when you do it right away.

Iris Telehealth is amazing with providing us with admin time, which many places don’t specifically do for note taking, so why not utilize that? Preferably, I do my notes for the morning patients before I start with the afternoon appointments. That way, I can start with a fresh mind; I remember everything. Then, since I’ve done my notes during the work hours, that leaves me with time in the evening to spend with my family, friends, and doing hobbies I pursue.

I also make sure in between visits, I get up for a little bit, even if it’s getting up and walking around for two minutes. I like meditating, doing yoga, and spending time in nature. I make sure there’s time for that, so I can return to work feeling enthusiastic and refreshed every day.

Q. What is the most rewarding part of your job?

A. Listening to people and realizing that they’re feeling so much better, from knowing someone is listening to them, trying to understand them, and validating how they’re feeling. I can see that relief in them, like, “Somebody understands me, somebody gets me.” There’s so much satisfaction from just knowing that somebody’s feeling relief from that itself.

Then, of course, when I see their symptoms improving and see them being able to function better in their lives, where their symptoms or their illness is not holding them back anymore. They can fully engage in life with their work and relationships in every way. It’s wonderful to see people get back to functioning at the most optimal level, especially with children, because I know they have their whole life ahead of them. A change that I can make that can impact the rest of their lives can be really rewarding.

Q. What do you love about working with Iris?

A. I love many things about working with Iris, and I’m saying this because I’ve spoken to friends who work at other telehealth companies. When Iris says they are focused on employee satisfaction and well-being, they mean it. I have felt so supported, especially during the pandemic. It was a challenging time. Each of us is assigned a Clinical Operations Manager, so they’re regularly reaching out to connect, see how things are going, and ask how they can support me.

But in the pandemic, they took it to another level where they were reaching out frequently to make sure I wasn’t feeling burnt out and asking how they could support me so that I could function the best at work, whether it was the pandemic or going through my medical stuff — I got so much support.

There was so much understanding and flexibility. I feel like I’m part of a family, and I’ve worked at other jobs, and they’ve been good too, but nothing like Iris. I really feel like this is my second family. They make it personal. They make sure to appreciate and acknowledge the people who work with them, and they’re so easy to approach — even higher-up people in the administration. It doesn’t feel like a hierarchy. They are just ready to listen.

Dr. Tracy Mullare is an amazing human being. Dr. Thomas Milam, too. Then, of course, my Clinical Operations Managers have been excellent. Even if it means advocating for a need of mine at the facility where I’m working, making sure things are running smoothly for me.

Iris also ensures we can keep a work-life balance by building that admin time into the workday. They’re mindful of our needs, providing many benefits, whether it’s attending conferences or providing office supplies and expenses. Iris gives me so much in so many ways that make my work day smooth. It keeps me wanting to stay at Iris. It’s the best job I’ve ever had so far.

Q. Why do you think telepsychiatry is important to the future of mental healthcare?

A. It gives flexibility to many people in different ways. For example, someone who’s a university student or someone working doesn’t have to take a significant amount of time off to come in for a visit. It’s helpful for them and for people with physical disabilities who have a hard time getting into the office for a visit. It helps people with transportation issues, who don’t have someone to give them a ride, or if there’s a weather issue.

Telehealth breaks all those things that could have been barriers and limitations for people to show up for a visit. It’s generally helpful to ensure that more people are seen as regularly as needed. Sometimes they forget about their appointment, and we remind them, and they can take their visit from the computer. For in-person visits, if they’re somewhere else and get a reminder, they may not be able to get to the office on time. Telehealth makes sure those barriers are no longer barriers.

As I work at facilities in other states, especially in these rural underserved areas, many tell me they’ve been waiting a year to see a psychiatrist—especially child psychiatrists. Sometimes the nearest child psychiatrist could be many towns away, and now it’s a click away. That’s why it can be really helpful to make sure that none of these are barriers for patients to get the care they need.

Q. What advice would you give to someone new to telepsychiatry?

A. I would tell them to make sure that when they’re at work, to imagine that they’re at an office, not at home – to keep that professionalism intact and ensure they’re using their work hours well and not leaving work for later.

Make sure you have good communication with the team working on the other side supporting you. For example, get to know exactly which one is going to help you, in which way, and how you can connect the patient to other services with the staff who’s already there. Sometimes it’s told to you, and sometimes it’s not. So as much information as we can get and as much of a relationship you can have, whether it’s a nurse, a social worker, or a medical assistant, it can help you communicate to them what you would need for your visit.

Each of us operates and functions differently. There’s certain information they can get for us that can be helpful for the visit. So, use that and have positive connections because sometimes it can be isolating when you’re at home and not meeting people at work as you would.

And then, the show rates improve with telepsychiatry, which is good but can mean we don’t have the breaks that we would have in the office sometimes when there are no-shows. That means we need to manage our time more effectively. Be sure to be organized, manage your time well, manage your connections with the on-site team, and communicate your expectations and what you would like.

At Iris, we believe our providers should be respected, valued, and applauded for the work they do, and we couldn’t be more proud to say, “thank you” to our very own Dr. Kavita Vasu. If you’d like to learn more about working for Iris Telehealth, contact us today.

Category: Blog

Telehealth has revolutionized the patient experience by making it easier to attend appointments, communicate with their provider, and reduce no-show rates. On top of enabling continuity of care for patients, telehealth also increases clinician satisfaction and provides financial benefits for organizations. In this blog, we review why no-shows happen and how the impact of telehealth can help improve patient outcomes and organizations.

Social determinants of health and no-show rates

Inability to take time off work, challenges getting childcare, fear of stigma, limited access to transportation, and complicated commutes are all barriers that can keep patients from regularly attending their behavioral health appointments. In fact, according to the American Hospital Association’s report, Transportation and the Role of Hospitals, 3.6 million people in the U.S. don’t receive care due to transportation barriers.

Fortunately, telehealth creates a digital front door that meets patients where they are, regardless of the social determinants of health they face. For example, if a patient can’t take off from work for two hours to drive to their appointment, they can find a confidential area to take their appointment and still receive treatment.

Dr. Thomas Milam, Chief Medical Officer of Iris Telehealth, shared his thoughts on how telehealth can be used to bridge communication between providers and their patients, noting:

“Telehealth is not just video connections with people. It’s patient portals, online self-scheduling, digital front doors that enable people to cancel, schedule, or postpone appointments. Video and audio-only connections can help people connect to a mental health professional from home and receive new services and follow-up appointments.

Having those avenues for patients to access their providers in different ways has shown to be a big and important aspect of telehealth.”

It’s evident telehealth has a lot of benefits for patients, but let’s take a look at some of the ways this care delivery model can promote provider satisfaction and help organizations improve the financial sustainability of their behavioral health programs.

How to improve provider satisfaction and no-show rates

Addressing no-show rates not only benefits your patients, but it can also provide financial benefits for your organization. For example, an article from Forbes references a study that found patient no-shows cost the U.S. health system $150 billion a year and physicians an average of $200 for unused time slots.

Implementing telehealth opens up another option for patients to get care and can help providers see patients whether they take their appointments in-person or online.

Additionally, provider satisfaction may decline if your no-show rate increases, and your organization may experience higher turnover rates. For example, if a provider consistently has patients missing appointments, and they’re not getting to provide consistent care, they could struggle with job satisfaction. In turn, recruiting a new provider can cost an organization two to three times the annual salary of the provider they’re replacing.

The good news is that using telehealth as a strategy to encourage patients to attend their appointments can help increase provider satisfaction and help them keep doing what they do best. It also helps create the possibility of different appointment types. With different forms of communication like telehealth, patients can reach out to their clinic and let them know they won’t be able to make their appointment. This communication can open up an appointment for another patient waiting for care.

According to Dr. Milam: “Financially, it’s good to have avenues for patients to get access who are on wait lists. There are a lot of things that can be done through digital health without human involvement. For example, if someone cancels an appointment online, it can send a link to someone else notifying them that an appointment is available. There are a lot of things that don’t involve human power that can connect people and increase access.”

Along with opening the digital door to another patient for care, the impact of telehealth can also add flexibility to the patient experience. For example, if patients can’t come in for their entire appointment, they can take an audio-video call for 30 minutes from their car if needed.

Patients who feel more engaged and connected to their provider are more likely to show and communicate if they can’t make their appointment. For providers, if there’s communication and the provider knows they won’t have a visit during a certain slot, they can regroup, work on notes, or reply to emails.

The connection between patient engagement and virtual care models

Providing care via telehealth opens up more options for access. For example, with telehealth, your organization can expand your provider pool beyond your local community and connect your patients with specialty providers who can most effectively help your population.

Additionally, for health systems, your organization can connect your patients with care models like Bridge Care Services. This model helps keep your patients engaged with their health outcomes and walks with them through each step of their journey.

Bridge Care Services provides a clinician-guided evidence-based navigation assessment that directs patients to the most appropriate next level of care, addresses short-term gaps in care across the continuum, and facilitates closed-loop handoff to the optimal long-term provider.

Addressing short-term gaps in care can have an impact on patient symptoms, even in a short amount of time. In fact, at Iris, one of our partners achieved a 38% improvement in depression symptoms over eight weeks of care. Additionally, they were able to get 40% of their psychiatry referrals diverted to a lower, more cost-effective level of care. You can read the full case study here.

By opening up access to specialty providers and effective care models via telehealth, your patients will be more engaged with their care journeys, and your organization will see better no-show rates.

Improve your no-show rates with Iris Telehealth

If you’d like to learn more about how telehealth can improve your patient experience and decrease no-show rates at your organization, contact us today.

Category: Blog

Finding behavioral health providers can be challenging for hospitals and health systems across the country. According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, 47% of people live in a mental health provider shortage area. Alongside this shortage of mental health providers, health systems are facing an ever-increasing demand for care, making finding a sustainable, scalable solution for behavioral health services paramount.

In a webinar hosted by Beckers Hospital Review, healthcare leaders from Allina Health and Geisinger came together to discuss their approach to scaling behavioral health across the care continuum and how they’re leveraging partnerships with organizations like ours to meet the demand for care and support their patient populations.

How Geisinger is leveraging behavioral health partnerships to meet patient needs

Dawn Zieger, Vice President of Behavioral Health and Psychiatry at Geisinger, spoke to the organization’s experience with a rise in outpatient demand, noting they receive 180 referrals daily. Zieger says they would need to hire one psychiatrist every other day to keep up with demand. Fortunately, leveraging behavioral health partners who can support health systems via telehealth can help keep up with growing demand and scale behavioral health services across the care continuum.

Here are a few ways behavioral health partnerships can support care delivery:

  • Specialist care: To help keep up with the surge of outpatient access, organizations like Geisinger have leveraged telehealth services to help supplement their on-site providers and make behavioral health care available locally. For example, for health systems with a high volume of young patients, connecting with a pediatric psychiatrist can be a game-changer for the whole organization.
  • Group therapy: Scaling patient care by using group therapy can be another great strategy to reach more patients and get them the care they need faster. At Geisinger, 70% of their referrals are for depression, anxiety, or stress. By leveraging group therapy, Geisinger can reach more people where they are and help make the most of provider time.
  • Patient management: At Geisinger, Zeiger says they’re making a paradigm shift towards a population management approach to care. For example, organizations are better positioned to close care gaps and improve patient outcomes by monitoring patients showing early signs of behavioral health conditions and providing proactive outreach.

Sharing her thoughts on telehealth’s role at Geisinger, Zeiger said, “Virtual care has really helped democratize care in our community and helped us to serve in a way we never could.”

How Allina Health is optimizing outpatient care in the ED

Helping ensure psychiatry is readily available in the ED is crucial to helping increase throughput and improving patient outcomes.

To learn more about increasing throughput in the ED, download our whitepaper.

Joe Clubb, Vice President of Operations at Allina Health, highlighted Allina’s approach to building out their outpatient services in a robust way that will allow them to close out 2023 with 15% growth and help them ensure alternatives are available to inpatient admissions.

Clubb shared that leveraging virtual care to support those efforts has served their patients well – with Allina’s patient attendance rates going up by 10% and patient satisfaction increasing by 5% after virtual care implementation. He says, “For Allina, virtual care is here to stay.”

By having behavioral health providers readily available, patients can get the care they need. While the mental health provider shortage continues to grow, leveraging virtual clinicians can significantly impact operations.

Clubb says, “Because of the rapid growth, we can’t hire our way out of the shortage. We continue to do a great job with recruitment but rely heavily on our Iris partnership to staff that growth in our partial treatment programs.”

Leveraging behavioral health providers for integrated care

Having a care team available to patients and providers can help prevent behavioral health conditions from escalating and give on-site teams a specialist to lean on for complex cases.

For example, Geisinger integrated a provider team comprising psychiatrists, PMHNPs, and LCSWs to ensure each patient got the right level of care, by the right provider, in a timely manner.

To learn how Geisinger dramatically reduced their referral queue, read the case study here.

At Allina, they’re addressing the needs of individuals through an integrated primary care model. Currently, they have a team of 25 psychiatrists and 80 psychologists. They’re also introducing a new role called a mental health consultant, a clinical social worker embedded in primary care.

Clubb says by using this model they can address needs inclusive of social determinants of health and complex psychiatric needs.

By learning how to integrate mental health into primary care, organizations are more fully equipped to address a broad spectrum of behavioral health needs.

Get started with Iris Telehealth

At Iris, we’re grateful for the partnership of Geisinger and Allina Health and couldn’t be more thrilled to help them scale their behavioral health programs. If you’d like to hear more of their insights into their behavioral health, you can watch the webinar here.

Additionally, if you’d like to learn more about integrating quality behavioral health programs into your hospital or health system, contact us today to get started!