Telepsychiatry Companies

Category: Blog

The Importance of Joint Commission Accreditation in Mental Health Care

For over 70 years, The Joint Commission (TJC) has served to uphold care quality standards to improve patient care across the healthcare industry. As the preeminent healthcare accreditation organization, TJC sets quality standards, evaluates the performance of healthcare organizations across the country, and provides the solutions and resources organizations need to improve their practices.

For behavioral health care, we know that maintaining quality, consistent care and ensuring patient safety across their experience is absolutely critical. If you’re in the process of expanding your behavioral health program or services, vetting partner organizations for TJC accreditation is a great place to start.

The benefits of working with a Joint Commission accredited partner

When you work with a healthcare organization that is TJC accredited you can be confident your patients and your communities will be receiving the best care possible and that all care will be delivered with quality and patient safety as the top priorities

Here are just a few additional benefits to working with a TJC accredited partner:

  • Dedication to continuous improvement: When a healthcare organization is accredited by TJC, you can rest assured that the organization is not only dedicated to continuously meeting rigorous national standards for care, but is also looking to constantly improve their care efforts to keep up with evolving best practices.
  • Ability to conduct credentialing by proxy: TJC accredited telehealth organizations meet the regulatory requirements for telemedicine credentialing and are qualified to conduct credentialing by proxy (CBP). This qualification allows health systems to leverage the benefits of telepsychiatry without incurring the full administrative burden associated with the traditional credentialing process.
  • Confidence in your partner’s management practices: Because a TJC accredited healthcare organization is subject to regular audits by the Joint Commission to ensure they’re in compliance with TJC standards, your organization can be confident that any TJC accredited partner will be utilizing sound management practices that put patient safety and care quality first.

For more information about TJC standards and the accreditation process, you can visit their website here.

Iris Telehealth has been Joint Commission accredited since 2019

Iris Telehealth first received TJC accreditation in 2019 and officially had our accreditation status recertified in November 2022. That status further cements our commitment to providing exceptional care and support to our partners and patients across the country.
As a psychiatric medical group that is TJC accredited as a Behavioral Healthcare & Human Services Organization, we believe it is important to hold our patient care standards at the same level as our health system partners, if not higher.

Through this ongoing commitment these standards continue to be at the forefront of how we operate our medical group – from provider selection, standards of patient care, compliance, and regulatory oversight.

If you’re interested in learning more about what partnership with Iris Telehealth looks like,contact us today and we’d be happy to get the conversation started.

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. Jaskirit Gill.

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

A: I was referred to Iris by a colleague. Before I worked at Iris, I was doing locums work and looking for a more permanent fit. I talked to several colleagues at other telehealth companies and one at Iris. I did my due diligence. I spoke to other telehealth companies, along with Iris. However, there were a few things that made me choose Iris.

One of them was that they had a benefits package. It was a few years ago, and many telehealth companies were doing 1099s. Another unique thing was the fact that they did the match process. I felt like there was a lot of thoughtfulness. They thought about what would be a good long-term fit. When looking for a permanent job, you’re really thinking about what will be sustainable. I felt out of the options available at the time, Iris was the most sustainable option for my career and my family. My family is growing, so it was important for me to think about what would work three or two and a half years ago and what would work now.

Q. What does a typical day as an Iris Telehealth provider look like for you?

A: I start in the morning reviewing the huddle. I’m lucky that my clinic gives me a huddle. We have the patients scheduled, so I know who I’m going to see every day. I get some notes from the primary service provider and the nurses. I start the day very prepared. I know exactly what to expect, which is a huge positive, especially in psychiatry which can be unpredictable. This workload is very predictable, and I really appreciate that.

After I do the huddle, I see my morning patients. I have time to catch up on my notes, have lunch, and then see my afternoon patients. Then, I wrap up, and I’m usually done by five, which is really nice. I think one of the biggest things I like is that it’s really done at 5. I’m not being called afterward. For me, I think that it’s really important that there really is a clear end to the workday. That provides a lot of help not only for my family but for my peace of mind.

Q. What do you love about being a telepsychiatry provider?

A: I love providing patient care to people who may not have had access to a psychiatrist before. The clinic that I’m at is more in a rural area. I think they only have one psychiatrist in the county. I know many patients I see were on a long waiting list, or their family doctor was doing their best to manage the condition. Telepsychiatry really helps to reach those areas. A lot of people may not want to live in a rural area but would still like to help service those areas. I felt Iris provided a really unique opportunity to live in a region that I want to live in, but still be able to provide services to people who may not have access to care.

Q. How do you foster connection with patients virtually?

A: I think it’s really the same as in person. You make eye contact, listen, and meet them where they’re at. I feel, maybe since I grew up with technology, and especially in the pandemic, talking with my friends on Zoom felt no different. It’s as if they were sitting in front of me. I would say it’s identical to how you connect in real life. You listen, and you really try to put yourself in the other person’s shoes. Then you use the tools and resources you may have to help that person with whatever situation they’re dealing with.

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

A: I think I’m really lucky in that regard. Telehealth makes it much easier to manage work-life balance. Before, when I was doing locums, it was very disruptive to my family life because I would be moving or need to be in a certain place; maybe that was not close to my family. And with telepsychiatry, one thing I thought about that’s unique is even if I move, my family, or my husband, if his job moves to Chicago, that doesn’t mean I have to find a new job. I think before you move out of state, you may move 45 minutes away because that’s where affordable housing is, that means finding a new job. But I don’t think that’s the case anymore. With my role, I can live anywhere and still keep my job, which is unique.

I think the key with telehealth is that it’s not only sustainable, but it’s also really stable. I do not have to go to a locums assignment here or there. I can stay with my family for the most part. And still have benefits, pay my bills, and be around if grandma needs anything. That’s huge for me.

Q. What are your biggest learnings from your time at Iris?

A: I learned, especially during the pandemic, the power of people. I’m just one person, and Iris is a big company with lots of people who do lots of things. There are lots of patients and clinics. I was amazed at how well people worked together and their resilience. It really touched me to realize that healthcare providers are doing so much, but there are also so many people behind the scenes who make that happen. That keeps the lights on and makes sure I have internet. In really challenging and uncertain times, people persevered, and I think I played a small part in that if any. It was the collective people and the power of that.

Q. What’s the most rewarding part of your job?

A: The most rewarding part is my team. I’m privileged to have a role where I provide care and service to others and try my best to help people. The fact that I have such great support with Iris and such great support with my clinic – all of that is really unique. A lot of doctors who were discouraging me from telehealth said I may not know who I’m working with or what I’m getting into. However, Iris did a good job of helping me really understand my clinic.

When I did my interview, I wasn’t interviewing with just one person at the clinic. I met the whole team. They told me what to expect. I went through a week-long orientation with the Iris team, and they helped me get situated with the clinic. They didn’t just drop me off and leave me. They’ve been with me for the last two and half years, making sure I’m doing okay. Making sure the clinic is happy.

All that collaboration made a difference and every person at Iris really cares. They are all about the patient and helping the clinic solve their problems, and also helping me – if I have a small camera issue or something, somebody cares. I heard telemedicine is like a one-person island; you’re by yourself and left to figure it out on your own. I haven’t felt that way at all.

Q. What do you love about working with Iris?

A: Working here has been a big blessing on my life. When you go into psychiatry, and especially doing locums before, I saw many different ways of providing care. And then I joined Iris and felt from the beginning I was so lucky. I’m so lucky to be working with the clinic I’m at. I was so lucky to have Ted as my Clinical Operations Manager. And then to have Martha now, and then the IT people, every day, it was like, “I’m so lucky.” This is such an amazing role that I have.

As my family needs changed, my scheduling availability changed, and I was relieved that the clinic and Iris could work with me and make a new schedule as my family grows. I thought that was really special. I’ve heard about places where they tell you, “This is the assignment. This is what we expect from you.” And working at Iris was the reverse. I came to them saying, “I love the clinic. I want to stay here, but I’m only going to be available these days of the week.” And then they worked with me to make that happen.

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

A: It is the future. I don’t think we have a choice about it. It’s where a lot of patients are. I see a large age group, especially the younger patients, who prefer it. It’s more convenient for them. I think as people give it a chance, they’ll realize many benefits. They can see a doctor where they may not have been able to before. There’s a lot of flexibility in terms of scheduling too. We’re just at the beginning of what telehealth can do, and Iris is really at the forefront of that.

There are so many things that are still yet to come. The fact that we have all this health data. The fact that we can use that in a way that’s meaningful to patients. There are so many places for telehealth to go. I’m excited that I’m a part of it. It’s been nice to see how it’s evolved through the pandemic and where it will go even after that.

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. Jaskirit Gill. If you’d like to learn more about working for Iris Telehealth, contact us today.

Category: Blog

There are many barriers that can keep people from getting the mental health care they need. One of these key barriers is access. Thankfully, organizations like the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) continue to drive new initiatives to mitigate this barrier and help more people get the care they need. In November 2022, CMS finalized new rules to expand access to behavioral health.

Key initiatives include flexibility in billing and supervision as well as permanently covering certain telehealth services. These new flexibilities improve access to substance use and mental health services for patients all across the country.

These new telehealth rules are an optimistic next step in expanding behavioral health care to those who need it most. That’s why we’ve condensed everything you and your providers need to know about the newly expanded rules.

Overview of new CMS rules

At a high level, these new changes by CMS include flexibility in supervision denoting that a supervising clinician does not need to be on-site for certain behavioral health services. In addition, Medicare will pay opioid treatment programs to start MAT (medication assisted treatment) with buprenorphine for care delivered via telehealth or by a mobile unit.

Let’s take a closer look at these two final rules:

1. Physician fee schedule final rule: This new rule helps ensure patients needing behavioral health care can access the care they need. By no longer requiring clinicians to be on-site for billable behavioral health services, it opens up greater opportunity for those enrolled in Medicare to see their providers.

This rule states that certain behavioral health clinicians can provide care without their supervisor on-site. CMS permits clinicians like licensed professional counselors (LPCs) and licensed marriage and family therapists (LMFTs) to bill under the general supervision of a physician or non-physician practitioner rather than direct supervision for any mental health or substance use disorder (SUD) treatment.

Additionally, the final physician fee schedule rule also clarifies that any mental health or substance use disorder (SUD) treatment service is billed under general supervision.

2. Hospital outpatient prospective payment system final rule: The hospital outpatient prospective payment system final rule allows hospital outpatient departments to bill for certain in-home telebehavioral health services when patients cannot go in person for a visit but need to be seen. This expanded access is crucial for reaching those in rural communities who need care.

This final rule requires patients to have an in-person visit within 6 months before and every 12 months after the telehealth visit. However, if the patient and provider agree that the risk and burden of an in-person visit outweighs the benefits, they can forgo the in-person visit.

Additionally, the final rule allows audio-only visits when video technology isn’t available.

Core benefits of the new CMS rules

These new rules provide benefits for providers, patients, and organizations overall. Here are a few core benefits for each person in the healthcare ecosystem:

    • For patients: Access is everything in mental health care and these new rules from CMS help patients secure continuity of care. Additionally, as this access improves, there are more opportunities for patients to find the right care.
    • For providers: Making the public health emergency telehealth flexibilities permanent means there is no longer a worry about a disruption of workflow and care – should this line of service no longer be a billable option. The new rules create flexibility in delivery of care; via telehealth and a more flexible supervision model allowing clinicians to reach more patients.Additionally, the CMS rules provide new codes for psychologists and LCSWs for behavioral integration, allowing services to be delivered in a primary care setting which ultimately improves patient access to substance use and mental health services.If you’re a provider looking to learn more about navigating these new changes, check out this article by CMS.
    • For organizations: As the new rules permanently cover certain telehealth services, organizations who are delivering care via telehealth are able to maintain this model that has ensured continuity of care during the pandemic and improved the number of patients served.

How Iris Can Help

At Iris, we’re always here to clarify and help your organization understand new rules and regulations in the evolving telehealth landscape. If you have any questions about the new CMS rules, we can help guide you and your team through these new changes. To talk to one of our team members, contact us today.

Category: Blog

At Iris Telehealth, we talk a lot about all the different ways telepsychiatry can benefit healthcare organizations and increase access to quality mental health care. But, when it comes to a holistic, long-term approach to care (and one required for any healthcare organizations seeking to become CCBHCs), having access to quality teletherapy programs or counseling services is just as important..

If your healthcare organization is considering incorporating counseling services into your behavioral health program — or expanding your existing programs — LCSWs can be a good place to start.

An LCSW can provide many benefits to your organization, including their expertise in a variety of treatment modalities and their ability to fit seamlessly in your care team. Keep reading to learn why teletherapy for mental health care might be the best way forward for your organization.

What LCSWs bring to teletherapy programs

LCSWs are highly-trained providers who can provide a wide variety of services, depending on their specialization. The two biggest categories for these specializations are micro and macro social work. In general, macro social is looking at the larger population, whereas micro social work is working with individuals or family units. In most cases, your organization will likely be looking at LCSWs who specialize in individuals or families.

Because LCSWs deliver counseling and therapy services rather than psychiatric or medical services, they cannot prescribe. But, importantly, they can diagnose patients and are familiar with the DSM-5.
Common treatment modalities that LCSWs specialize in include:

  1. Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT): Commonly referred to as “talk therapy,” CBT hones in on how thoughts and feelings influence behaviors — and how those behaviors can lead to psychological problems. LCSWs can utilize CBT methods to help patients identify and work through these thoughts and behaviors.
  2. Crisis intervention model: The crisis intervention model is commonly used for individuals experiencing crisis and trauma. This model consists of seven stages: Conducting a psychosocial assessment, rapidly establishing a rapport, identifying the crisis cause, enabling the patient to express their emotions, establishing safe alternatives for coping, creating an action plan, and following up with the patient.
  3. Solution-focused therapy: This treatment modality involves an LCSW working closely with a patient to identify a problem and create a solution plan based on that patient’s individual strengths. This short-term practice model is designed to help an individual cope effectively with the challenges they’re facing.
  4. Dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT):DBT was developed in the 1980s as a modified approach to CBT. The primary goals of DBT are to enable people to develop healthy ways to cope with stress, regulate their emotions, and improve their social relationships. While DBT was initially created to treat patients with Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD), it has proved effective for those experiencing eating disorders or substance use disorders.

Additional treatment modalities that LCSWs can utilize to benefit your healthcare organization’s behavioral health program include motivational interviewing, mind body bridging, brainspotting, eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR), and acceptance and commitment therapy.

How LCSWs fit into your organization’s mental health care strategy

Their ability to effectively diagnose patients makes LCSWs an essential first line of treatment or screening for health systems, outpatient clinics, and community health centers. Having LCSWs available for initial patient interactions is often more efficient for most healthcare organizations. Additionally, it’s more cost-effective to have an LCSW on hand to manage less acute diagnoses that don’t need medication management. Then, for more acute diagnoses, an LCSW would be able to refer the patient to a psychiatrist or PMHNP on your care team.

In most outpatient settings, LCSWs can function as part of a larger integrated care system where they need to provide access to counseling services and psychotherapy along with medication management and psychiatric care. Positioning LCSWs as the first line of defense in your treatment plan can help point patients in the right direction and identify the best path forward for their care plan.

From a behavioral health standpoint, it’s hard to overstate the value a teletherapy provider will bring to your organization. But it’s important to find the right mental health care provider for your organization, your patient populations, and your goals. Opening yourself up to teletherapy programs can help you through that process.

How LCSWs can help your organization build an effective integrated care model

As part of an effective integrated care model, a combination of medication management and psychotherapy is necessary. That means your organization will likely need to build up a program that includes therapists or counselors on staff. You might also need to expand the counseling services you already have.

There are studies showing that utilizing CBT or other therapy modalities can effectively treat less acute diagnoses without medication. And, if you have a good LCSW, you can utilize their services in addition to medication to assist the overall success of your treatment plans for a given patient.

Why teletherapy programs may be the best fit for your healthcare organization

There’s no denying that, for an LCSW, the rapport they create with patients is key to their improvement. But it’s a common misconception that it’s more difficult to build that connection over video. A well-trained teletherapy provider can build just as strong a therapeutic relationship virtually as in person. Almost every in-person modality an LCSW can specialize in can be translated effectively in a teletherapy program – including brainspotting and EMDR.

That means if your organization is cutting yourself off from engaging in teletherapy, you’re limiting the quality of your program — and your ability to expand it.

Additionally, embracing teletherapy programs in your organization means patients can take the session wherever they’re most comfortable. With that freedom, some patients can be more willing to open up. The flexibility to choose their locations can also decrease no-show rates and open up access for people experiencing conditions that make it difficult for them to find motivation to leave their homes.

However, you may still have patients who prefer seeing their provider in person. So, when possible, we recommend offering teletherapy programs alongside in-person therapy or counseling services.

How your organization can set your LCSWs (and your treatment team as a whole) up for success

When bringing LCSWs in or expanding your teletherapy programs, it’s important to ensure those providers feel valued. There can be a tendency to undervalue LCSWs when compared to psychiatrists. It’s important to make sure they feel like they’re part of the team.

Then, for your own organization, you should work to identify the particular specializations or modalities you need when staffing LCSWs. And remember, if you are open to teletherapy programs, partnering with a vendor like Iris Telehealth can help you identify carefully vetted, high-quality providers for your organization. If you’re interested in learning more about Iris Telehealth’s LCSWs, contact us today!

Category: Blog

According to a study done before the pandemic, over one-half of physicians and one-third of nurses experience symptoms of burnout. Following the pandemic, we’ve seen an unprecedented rise in the prevalence of burnout among clinicians due to demanding hours, lack of work-life balance, and higher demand for providers.

Burnout generally refers to physical and emotional exhaustion coming from chronic stressors. For many providers, it can feel like they can’t provide their highest quality of care or that they’re not functioning in a high-quality system.

The state of clinician burnout

In 2020, the clinician burnout rate was reported to be around 25%. Over the past couple of years, that number has only increased. It can be challenging when providers balance raising a family, longer work hours, personal life, and their mental and physical health.

Many behavioral health providers are on the front lines of the mental health crisis. Providers across the country are having a hard time handling many patients, especially when there are few resources to provide quality care to patients.

And, due to the provider shortage, there is enormous pressure and insufficient providers to combat the mental health crisis.

What providers can do to identify burnout

Burnout can be hard to identify, but physical exhaustion and the need to recharge and self-care can be early signs. Sometimes burnout can show itself in emotional exhaustion as well. Pay attention if you feel you cannot emotionally engage in your relationships with your family and friends or are having difficulty enjoying your hobbies. These can be early red flags that you are suffering from acute burnout.

It can be hard to take time for yourself as a provider, especially when you want to meet the needs of your patients. Taking time out for yourself and engaging in self-care can help mitigate and alleviate burnout.

Ways telepsychiatry can alleviate provider burnout

When implemented properly, telepsychiatry can help address the challenge of provider burnout. According to Physician’s Weekly, 20% of providers said greater flexibility in their work schedules could help avoid burnout. Here are just a few of the ways telepsychiatry can help decrease burnout:

  1. Telepsychiatry can help clinicians to have a better work-life balance, decreasing burnout. Through telepsychiatry, providers can have a sense of control and autonomy over their schedules. Providers can have the ability to spend more time with their family, engage in self-care, and take appointments from the comfort of their own home.
  2. No more long commutes. Providers can skip the commute and conduct remote visits with the help of telepsychiatry. When providers can work from home, they no longer need to worry about wasted time or the expense of a commute. This is especially true in rural areas where they might have to travel further to see patients.
  3. Practicing from a setting where you are more comfortable improves patient quality of care. With telepsychiatry, providers can provide optimal care from the comfort of their own homes.

How can organizations help their providers?

As an organization, you should make sure your providers aren’t isolated during difficult times. Here are a few ways you can help your providers:

  1. Remind them about employee assistance programs and other places to get mental health help. Ensure they know who is on their team and who they can talk to, especially when they are virtual. With a culture of open communication, encourage your providers to talk about their concerns.
  2. Monitor your provider’s mental wellbeing. Check in with your providers about their mental health. Sometimes, when taking care of their patients and their loved ones, it can be challenging for providers to take a step back and think about themselves. Burnout can be mitigated by creating an environment where a provider’s mental health is a priority.
  3. Give your clinicians ample time for their personal lives by not overscheduling them. Make sure you’re giving your providers as much flexibility as you can. Reinforce safety practices, monitor their stress, and provide support for your providers. And, remember to encourage your providers to take their PTO.

Resources to support providers and looking towards the future

According to a study on physician suicide before the pandemic, an estimated 300 physicians die by suicide every year, and that rate has continued to increase. It’s becoming more important to keep an eye on depression and anxiety for physicians during this difficult time. Many providers are leaving the profession or retiring early, which is also contributing to the provider shortage. By ensuring our providers are feel mentally and emotionally well, we can keep more people in the profession and provide the best quality possible.

There are a few resources that can help you manage clinician burnout from an individual level and organizational level. These toolkits, TEDTalks, and guides can help you prevent burnout for yourself and advocate for a healthier workplace culture. Here are a few resources:

  1. TEDTalks: TED has a list of TEDTalks that can help you mitigate burnout. They share great information on how to bounce back and get you back in the groove of everyday life through various tips and tricks.
  2. The American Psychiatrist Association Toolkit for Well-Being Ambassadors: This slide deck can help you support, advocate, and spread awareness about burnout in your organization. The APA also has a toolkit, manual, and flyer to help you address the burnout needs in your workplace.
  3. The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ): AHRQ’s guide on physician burnout shows the causes of burnout and lists research-backed interventions for clinician burnout.

Where Iris Telehealth can help

At Iris Telehealth, we strive to make implementing a telepsychiatry solution for your organization as easy as possible. We take care of the paperwork, credentialing, and licensing for providers. Iris can work alongside you every step of the way to help take the burden off of providers and your organization. Contact us today to see if our telepsychiatry services can help your providers and organization provide high-quality care for your patients.

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 Erica Picon, an LCSW practicing in California.

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

A: I found Iris on Indeed. I knew I wanted to switch to telehealth, so I applied to a bunch of different positions. But, what made the difference for me with Iris, was the interview process. Initially, I applied for a job in New York, but it wasn’t the right opportunity at the time, so I wasn’t willing to make the switch. The person I interviewed with kept my resume and asked if I’d like to be considered if anything in another state popped up. I said, “yes,” but didn’t think anyone would actually reach out again because there were so many applicants, but they followed up.

The fact that they remembered me, cared, and wanted to see if there was a way to make it work, shows the dedication of Iris overall. That was pretty much the determining factor for me.

Q. What does a typical day as an Iris Telehealth provider look like for you?

A: I work in an outpatient behavioral health setting with adult clients with severe mental illness and functional impairments. When I’m doing my client sessions and my documentation, I make my own schedule. There are a few meetings I have with people on-site, including regular meetings with our supervisor, meetings with the whole clinical team, and any necessary discussions around clients who need higher care or more attention.Otherwise, I can structure my time how I want to between meeting with clients, checking in with collaterals, case managers, and prescribers, and whenever I want to get the documentation in. I like that I get to determine how my day flows.

Q. How do you foster connection with patients virtually?

A: That was tough at first because it was my first time doing any type of telehealth. I really lean into acknowledging the telehealth piece with the client. Especially if they’ve opted for a phone session instead of Zoom, I’ll say, “I know this could be a little awkward. There might be a moment when it sounds silent. If that happens, I don’t want you to think that the call was lost or I’m not here.” I’ll let them know that sometimes I’m taking a second to think about how I want to respond, or I’m making a note of what they said because I know I want to circle back. I think it’s important to acknowledge those little pieces.

Then, I let them know the benefits of telehealth, too. If it is a tough topic we’re discussing, it’s good to say, “you know you’re essentially in your safe space right now where you feel the most comfortable, so let’s make that even more comfortable for you. What’s going to make you feel as good as possible while we dive into this?” Whether it means lighting a candle, getting a cup of tea ready, or getting their favorite blanket. Whatever it is, I recommend using that piece in the therapeutic process.

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

A: Work-life balance is something I struggled with before taking this job. That was important to me, and I think that is what made me want to switch to telehealth. I am very conscientious about shutting down my computer at the end of the day. I don’t leave it open. I want to ensure it feels like a separate work space and living space. I don’t have any notifications on my phone. I don’t check emails or have Microsoft Teams on my phone. When it’s my lunchtime, I make sure I walk away from the computer, go to a different room to eat, or go outside for a walk. I find those opportunities throughout the day to take a little break and make sure I do that.

At the end of the day, I’m making sure there’s no chance that something will pop up where it pulls me back in. It’s also helpful that the site I’m at has a crisis line. That resource put me at ease, knowing my clients can still access help if they need to, but it won’t be me at that time. We have that conversation with clients – so, they’re aware of that, which is helpful too.

Q. What are your biggest learnings from your time at Iris?

A: This learning is very specific to the structure of Iris. While you work for Iris, you’re also placed at another healthcare organization. When I was applying for other telehealth jobs, you only worked for them. I wondered if working for Iris and a clinic would create any friction, or if there would be different expectations.

However, I found that it’s very cohesive, and I like that a lot. Everyone seems like they’re on the same page and I feel supported on both ends. I know Iris talks to my site and talks to me. We all talk to one another, and it feels like a cohesive team, which has been huge.

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

A: Client care. We’re not getting into this field unless it’s rewarding. Separate from that, it’s feeling appreciated and valued as an employee. Iris and my site have both been great. The check-ins aren’t just reviewing what needs to be worked on, but a lot of the check-ins are letting you know you’re doing great or sharing positive feedback. You know you’re doing good, and you hear that from someone. Iris views its employees, at least in my experience so far, as human beings, too. They want people to feel happy here.

Q. What do you love about working with Iris?

A: There’s a really good balance between feeling independent but also supported. So you don’t at all feel micromanaged. You’re a clinician, and you know what you’re doing. No one makes you feel like they are checking in on you every second, but you never feel alone. You still feel like you know who to reach out to, and anytime I have reached out to someone, they’re very responsive and helpful. If I don’t know who to reach out to, I’ve reached out to anyone I’ve come across at Iris and been like, “you might not be the right person, but would you be able to direct me to who I should talk to?” Everyone has always responded and has either cc’d who I should speak to or helped me look into it.

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

A: Telepsychiatry puts people in their safe spaces when discussing tough topics. There can be many situations where people might not have received the help they needed because of their diagnosis or the severity of their symptoms. For example, for someone with agoraphobia who can’t really leave their house, it’s going to be hard for them to go into an office to see their provider. Or if there’s someone who can leave their home but they have a flare-up that day. Their anxiety or PTSD is triggered, and it’s hard to go into the office for their appointment. With telepsychiatry, you’re making it more accessible for them to still get help, especially when they’re struggling, and maybe they would have canceled an appointment because they’re not feeling up to it. But with telepsychiatry, they can still have that appointment, and they can have it when they need it.

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 Erica Picon. If you’d like to learn more about working for Iris Telehealth, contact us today.

Category: Blog

As a mental health professional, helping patients get the care they need is essential to your work. However, for clinicians living in states with greater barriers to practice, connecting patients with the right resources and care isn’t always possible. Whether you’re bogged down with administrative tasks, restricted by red tape, or frustrated with access issues, you may feel the strain of not being able to practice at the top of your license.

Thankfully, telehealth makes it easier for patients and providers to connect, regardless of geographical and regulatory barriers. This level of access allows patients to get the best care possible and enables providers to practice at the top of their licenses.

Keep reading to learn more about the challenges of working in restrictive states and how telemental health can help you operate at the top of your license.

Top challenges for providers working in restricted states

So, what challenges might you encounter if you’re a psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner (PMHNP) practicing on-site in a restrictive state? Let’s take a closer look at a few:

  • Maintaining collaborating physicians: If you’re a PMHNP working in a state that requires a collaborating physician, you understand there’s always a chance they might suddenly be unable to provide oversight that would allow you to practice at the top of your license – and leaving patients without access to proper care. In some cases, finding a new collaborating physician can take months.
  • Minimal patient resources: In certain states, there are more restrictions and fewer resources for patients. These limitations can keep a provider from practicing to the full extent of their license and inhibit their ability to do more for patients.
  • Potential for burnout: Working on-site in a restrictive state can be bad for morale. While the goal is to provide the best possible patient care, some patients may have little to no options based on state restrictions.

Practicing behavioral health remotely removes the limitations placed on providers based on where they live. For example, if you live in a state with a highly restricted practice environment, telemental health allows you to live where you want and still have autonomous practice, without the need of a supervising or collaborating physician. Additionally, when working with an organization like Iris Telehealth, you’re ensured a collaborating physician if necessary.

Along with these benefits, it can also help you work with a population you love.

Help the population you love without limitations

As a behavioral health provider, you’ve likely spent a lot of time figuring out what population you wanted to work with. However, depending on where you live, making the most of your education and providing care to the specific population you love might not always be an option. Remote behavioral health work makes it possible for you to work with the communities you’ve always wanted to impact, regardless of where you or your patients are in the country.

Additionally, some organizations, like Iris Telehealth, offer job matching services that keep your clinical preferences in mind, letting you choose what population you want to work with and whether or not you want to work in an autonomous state. So you don’t have to choose between working with the communities you love and working at the top of your license.

Want to learn more about the job matching process? Check out our guide for all the details!

Gain more support for top of license work

Working in telemental health can help eliminate everyday tasks that keep you from working at the top of your license and give you a leg up in areas that will help support your practice. Here’s how:

  • Care team collaboration: Having a care team of professionals you can lean on for expertise is essential. At Iris, our provider network is expansive and creates a resource for advice and support. This access to other psychiatrists, case managers, and social workers ensures you always have the support you need and lets you focus on appointments and follow-ups. It also means you don’t have to worry about other tasks that fall outside your scope.
  • Less admin work: Licensing and credentialing takes a lot of time and attention. That’s why working with an organization that takes care of that process is highly beneficial. At Iris, we help our providers get licensed in the states where they want to work and take care of all the tedious parts of that process. That way, you can focus on what they do best – providing quality patient care.
  • Diversify your skill set: When you work remotely, you can work with populations you may not have had the opportunity to work with otherwise. This access gives you more diversity in your patient panel work, allowing you to tap into different demographics and expand your knowledge and skill set.
  • Connect with top organizations: When working with a telehealth solution like Iris, you can trust that you’re getting connected with the leading organizations in the country. We ensure all our partner organizations are aligned with our standards for appointment times, have thought through how telehealth will work for them, and will support our providers.

Additionally, if the organization is strictly remote, we ensure they’ve thought through how their patients will get things like vitals and weight measured if they’re being seen from home, what their route to care will be like, and have whatever they need for appointments.

Where Iris Telehealth fits in

At Iris, we believe that our providers should be celebrated and applauded for the work they do. If you’re an LCSW, PMHNP, or psychiatrist interested in telemental health work, contact us today.

Category: Blog

Lack of access to proper psychiatric care in the United States is a major challenge for our healthcare system. However, virtual solutions like telepsychiatry make getting psychiatric care more accessible, effective, and patient-centered.

The benefits of telepsychiatry for patients are significant. In fact, in a study by the American Medical Association, 79% of patients were very satisfied with the care received during their last telehealth visit. For patients, telepsychiatry opens up access, facilitates shorter wait times, and cuts out the commute to the doctor’s office.

While these benefits are essential, let’s take a closer look at all the ways telepsychiatry boosts patient satisfaction.

State of telepsychiatry

During the COVID-19 pandemic, many people found themselves relying on telehealth to get care. In fact, during the first four months of COVID-19, telehealth visits accounted for 23.6% of all interactions. Today, telehealth continues to provide care to those who cannot reach behavioral health services as easily.

Following the COVID-19 pandemic, many hospitals and health systems continue to experience challenges meeting patient volume and needs with limited behavioral health resources. Additionally, the ongoing provider shortage underscores the importance of leveraging telepsychiatry as patients still struggle to receive timely care. Thankfully, telepsychiatry can ensure patients receive quality, timely, and sustainable care by connecting them to providers regardless of geographic location.

Patient satisfaction by the numbers

Convenience is an essential factor that contributes to patient satisfaction. According to the American Medical Association, 62% of physicians feel like their patients have higher satisfaction since they’ve started offering telehealth as an option.

At Iris, our clinicians have a similar experience with patient satisfaction. Courtney Bearden, one of our psychiatric mental health nurse practitioners, says telepsychiatry is convenient for her patients who don’t have transportation and that virtual care has opened up care for people who haven’t gotten it before – especially those in rural areas.

Additionally, research shows that telepsychiatry is an effective way to increase patient access. According to the 2022 CVS Health Care insights, 59% of patients said that accessing virtual telehealth services was essential to their health.

Overall, the data is clear – patients enjoy utilizing telehealth. The J.D. Power 2022 U.S. Telehealth Satisfaction Study says that a growing number of patients prefer telehealth visits for various types of care, including routine care, prescription refills, and regular mental health visits. The survey also says 94% of patients and their families who have used telehealth in the past “definitely will” or “probably will” continue to utilize it.

Telepsychiatry reaches those who need care most

In a database released by the Health Resources & Services Administration, they found that 157 million people live in a mental health professional shortage area (HPSA). Telehealth makes access to specialty behavioral health providers more easily available to those who live far from care.

Here are just a few of the populations that benefit from telepsychiatry access:

    • LGBTQIA+: For LGBTQIA+ youth, access to mental health can be difficult due to inadequate mental health care, fear of discussing mental health concerns, and stigma. Utilizing telepsychiatry can help LGBTQIA+ youth overcome some of these barriers by promoting a safe and accessible method for the delivery of care.
    • Youth: Child psychiatry is more important than ever, with the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Hospital Association, and the American Academy of Child Adolescent Psychiatry declaring a mental health emergency for youth. With the use of telepsychiatry, children can be screened for mental health conditions, and have a psychiatrist ready to support and treat them. Additionally, parents no longer have to take time out of their day to bring their children to their mental health appointments, making care more convenient for both families and children.
    • Geriatric populations: Early intervention, collaborative care, and a holistic approach are both vital when it comes to addressing the health of the geriatric population in your community. Telepsychiatry can be an essential tool for older adults to receive care from the comfort of their own homes while maintaining a sense of autonomy.
    • Rural populations: Barriers like limited health literacy, transportation challenges, and privacy are just a few challenges that rural populations face when they’re trying to get the care they need. However, telepsychiatry provides an opportunity for rural communities to connect to a high-quality mental health provider without a long commute and fear of stigma.
    • Underserved populations: Social determinants of health create and exacerbate mental illness by making access to mental health care more difficult. Access to providers that are culturally competent can allow minorities to connect with a provider who can better relate to their experiences.

How telepsychiatry boosts patient satisfaction in the ED

In the emergency department (ED), telepsychiatry can allow patients faster access to behavioral health care through a virtual visit. This improved access means patients don’t have to wait hours to receive treatment and can have a shorter stay in the ED – leading to an improved patient experience overall.

Avoiding ED boarding is crucial to patient satisfaction, as there are many downstream harms that can come with it. The Joint Commission (TJC) recently shared how boarding is a patient safety risk that leads to increased medical errors, compromised patient privacy, and increased mortality, especially if it exceeds four hours. With the help of telepsychiatry, organizations can increase throughput in the ED and decrease the need for patient boarding.

How Iris can help

At Iris Telehealth, we envision a better world through healthy minds. If you’re looking to meet the behavioral needs of your community and help your patients achieve better health outcomes, telepsychiatry is the perfect solution. Contact us today if you’d like to learn more about implementing telepsychiatry into your organization.

Category: Blog

Remote behavioral health work has many benefits, like flexible schedules, self-care opportunities, and no commute, leaving you with more time to do the things you love. Remote behavioral health work, like telepsychiatry, offers psychiatrists, LCSWs, and PMHNPs the chance to make a real impact on the communities they love, from wherever they are in the country.

But what does a career in telehealth look like? We’re breaking down all the commonly asked questions providers have as they get started in their telehealth careers. Keep reading to learn what documentation in a virtual space looks like, how telehealth can help you meet your clinical preferences, and how working with the right organization can help you streamline the licensing and credentialing process.

1. What does documentation look like in a virtual environment?

The type of electronic medical records (EMR) an organization uses varies site-to-site. But, regardless of what kind of documentation they’re using, you should have support and training that sets you up for success. When looking for a telepsychiatry provider to work for, ensuring they can provide top-notch support is essential.

At Iris Telehealth, we ensure you have a telepsych champion on-site at the healthcare organization where you’re placed to help answer any questions you may have. We also provide ample training and support to ensure you feel confident and comfortable with your EMR.

Additionally, as a behavioral health provider, you’ve likely used several EMRs before and may have preferences for which ones you like using the most. Your experiences matter, and at Iris we take them into account when matching you with the right organization.

To learn more about this topic, check out our EMR best practices for remote providers blog.

2. How does telepsychiatry meet provider preferences?

Good conversations upfront are critical to ensuring an excellent organizational match. And, if the telehealth company you’re interviewing for isn’t getting to know your needs, it’s likely a red flag. Considering what your dream job looks like, determining your negotiables, and defining your deal breakers are all things you should be having conversations about before getting placed at a new clinic.

At Iris, we get to know provider preferences by asking about the days they’d like to work, their time zones, their preferred setting, and what population they want to work with. We also want to know how much time our providers want for documentation and notes.

We know from experience that when our providers are happy and have found a healthcare organization that meets your clinical preferences, patients get higher quality care. So, ensuring you’re working with an organization that keeps all your wants, needs, and considerations in mind is critical.

3. What does remote work look like?

Flexibility is one of the most significant benefits of working remotely. Stepping outside after a long session, cutting out your daily commute, and having more time for family and friends are all things remote work can provide.

As a remote behavioral health provider, you may be working in one state and remoting into another. That’s what makes the clinical environment so important.

At Iris, placing you somewhere you love is our priority. If you want to work in a state where you’re not licensed, Iris will cover the costs and provide the support you need to work where you love.

4. As a PMHNP, will I be provided with medical supervision?

Working with a telehealth provider that’s got your back with all the support you need is essential. That might take shape by way of a top-notch IT team, supportive supervisors, and help with paperwork. For PMHNPs, it also means making sure you’ve got medical collaboration in states where it’s required. At Iris, we ensure you’ve got a collaborating physician (usually another Iris provider).

5. What does the licensing and credentialing look like for teleheatlh?

Going through the process of licensing and credentialing can be challenging. That’s why working with a telehealth organization that does the lion’s share of the work can be a game changer.

At Iris, we take care of that process for you. We gather all the needed information, like fingerprints and documents, to licensing and credentialing as easy for you as possible. While the licensing and credentialing timeline is variable, once you’ve determined the healthcare organization you want to work with, we lay out all relevant timelines so you’ll know what to expect.

Get started in telehealth today

Whether you’re considering telehealth for the first time or just getting started in your career, Iris is here to help you get started. If you’re looking for more information about a job at Iris, check out this recording of our recent virtual career fair. If you’d like to chat with someone at Iris, contact us today.

Category: Blog

Is your emergency department (ED) becoming the go-to for behavioral health patients because your psychiatry unit is under too much pressure?

If so, you’re not alone.

The United States is experiencing a shortage of psychiatrists and mental health providers — and it’s not expected to get better. Community and inpatient resources for mental health care are dwindling. With fewer providers, appointments, and specialized psychiatric facilities available, more and more behavioral health patients are coming to the ED as a last resort.

This mental health crisis can have big implications for your health system, including:

  • Increased length of stay
  • Higher admission and transfer rates
  • Long wait times
  • Poor patient satisfaction

In this post, we’ll share how you can improve patient satisfaction by implementing an emergency department (ED) telehealth program, increase access to care, and integrate solutions like telepsychiatry across departments. We’ll also discuss three things you can consider when implementing telepsychiatry for your health systems or hospitals.

ED telehealth services improve patient satisfaction and access

ED telehealth services like telepsychiatry allow hospitals to give patients faster access to high-quality psychiatric care through a virtual visit. This level of access means behavioral health patients don’t have to wait for hours to receive treatment from their ED physician. In addition, they can bypass an in-person consultation from a psychiatric provider, which can mean a shorter length of stay in the ED.

One study even found that a virtual visit conducted in the ED lasted 30-45 minutes — in stark contrast to traditional in-person ED visits, which can take 2 to 2.5 hours.

Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, patients have increasingly welcomed telemedicine into their healthcare journey as they seek more convenience and partnership with their healthcare providers. A study published in 2021 found that around 82% of respondents considered a virtual visit as good as an in-person visit by a clinician.

That means ED telehealth providers can offer a more comfortable, high-quality, and efficient ED experience for patients experiencing critical mental health conditions.

Telehealth services increase hospital discharge and follow-up rates

Studies have found that EDs that don’t use ED telehealth services like telepsychiatry are three times more likely to have used observation services to reduce ED crowding. However, these observation services often result in high admission and transfer rates.

Observation services can also prove costly because they often require an investment in additional staffing. To make matters worse, many hospitals and health systems struggle to meet Medicare’s requirement to follow up with behavioral health patients within seven days of discharge.

The current approach to behavioral health management is not sustainable given an evolving healthcare landscape that’s more focused on value than on the number of services provided.

ED telehealth services improve patient outcomes and reduce use of limited resources

For example, Iris Telehealth provides hospitals and health systems with highly qualified psychiatrists and psychiatric nurse practitioners who can support your ED by:

  • Assessing whether the hospital can discharge a patient instead of admitting or transferring them.
  • Starting treatment during a visit so the patient doesn’t have to wait for an in-person psychiatric consultation or follow-up visit.
  • Providing follow-ups for patients discharged from the hospital, thus ensuring continuity of care and Medicare compliance.

With a telepsychiatry vendor supporting your ED care team, patients are more likely to receive specialized, appropriate, and efficient care. This optimized care frees up more ED and inpatient beds for patients with medical or surgical issues. As a result, hospitals and health systems save more on costs due to reduced boarding times as well as lower admission and transfer rates.

While telepsychiatry can positively impact behavioral health patients in the ED, hospitals and health systems can also leverage the service in other patient care areas.

The future of telehealth in the ED

As patient needs grow more complex, we’re discovering opportunities for services like telepsychiatry in other departments besides the ED.

Aside from incorporating virtual care services into their inpatient psychiatric wards, health systems can expand telepsychiatry in palliative and hospice care. In these departments, patients and caregivers may need substantial behavioral health support to manage anxiety, depression, and other mental health concerns.

At the end of the day, targeted, comprehensive care will be crucial to boosting patient outcomes and hospital revenue.

Incorporating telepsychiatry into your hospital or health system

If you’re interested in implementing a telepsychiatry program to support behavioral health patients, know that the most crucial step is choosing a telepsychiatry vendor you trust.
Here are three major factors you should consider:

    1. Technology: As with all changes to hospital culture, hospital staff may seem reluctant to accept a new telepsychiatry platform. For this reason, many of our partners have seen value in the fact that we are technology-neutral. Our providers can work with your electronic health record or telehealth platform, so your staff doesn’t have to worry about learning how to use a brand new platform.
    2. Regulatory Standards: The telehealth boom has triggered regulatory changes that carry various implications on billing, risk management, and consenting practices, to name a few. It’s important to partner with a vendor who is knowledgeable about these changes to help ensure compliance and maximize reimbursement from payers.
    3. Goal Commitment: Whether your goals are decreasing ED wait times, increasing patient satisfaction, or spending less money on observation services, you need a consistent partner you can trust to achieve them.

If you partner with Iris Telehealth, you’ll receive access to a dedicated telepsychiatry care team that’s committed to your hospital or health system’s vision for behavioral health services.

We’ll help you develop realistic goals along with an action plan to implement your telepsychiatry program properly. You can also count on us to effectively and quickly remedy challenges that may arise during implementation (e.g., staff acceptance, technical issues).

Building a successful telepsychiatry program can seem overwhelming. But we’re here to make the process more manageable and less stressful. Contact us — we’ll provide the information your hospital or health system needs to reshape the future of behavioral health care.

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 Courtney Bearden.

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

A: I found Iris by going on a nurse practitioner’s social media board. I searched “telepsych” because I knew that’s what I wanted to do. Of all the negative reviews and bad experiences people had with other companies, Iris was the only one that had universally good responses from my peers. I ended up meeting with several telehealth companies, and having done that background work, Iris was the clear-cut winner.

Q. What does a typical day as an Iris Telehealth provider look like for you?

A: Right now, I’m working with our on-demand services and doing a combination of night and day shifts. My day looks different day-to-day, but a typical day shift allows me to get up and take my kids to school in the morning, which is wonderful. Then, I have time to get back and make a cup of coffee. I see patients for the bulk of that day. It’s a combination of calling and doing doc-to-doc reports, seeing the patients, documenting, and some collateral phone calls.

Then, I’m done in time to go pick up my kids from school in the afternoon, which again is another really wonderful thing to be able to do. If I’ve got any leftover work, it’s mostly just answering emails, nothing major. I don’t spend after-work time doing charting because I do it as I see patents. With the nature of consult-liaison work, you can’t leave it until the next day. So, I’m always done when my shift is done, which is a really nice and big change of pace.

Q. How do you foster connection with patients virtually?

A: Connecting virtually is something I thought would be more difficult. I have done bits and pieces of telepsychiatry for the past ten years. So, it’s not a new platform, but many patients became first acquainted with it during the COVID-19 pandemic. While there were certainly patients who were concerned about it, I found that I could connect just as well with a patient in person versus over telepsychiatry. There are things you can do as a provider that make a difference. The way you have your screen set up is important. For example, my camera is attached to the screen that I do my charting on. I’m looking at the patient while I’m charting, so I can continue having that eye contact and constant connection.

I will say that I feel like I’m better able to connect with certain age groups over a screen than in person, especially younger generations. That’s how they’re used to socializing and connecting. I do find that teenagers, in particular, tend to open up more over a screen, and I think it’s a generational thing. Still, it certainly surprised me when I found I was getting more from patients through telepsychiatry than in person, when patients tend to be a little more closed off.

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

A: A big part of managing work-life balance is finding the right company to work for. There are certainly healthcare organizations that do not prioritize clinician health. They do not prioritize clinician work-life balance. That’s obvious when you see schedules with 10-minute follow-ups, no charting time, and 30-minute initial evaluations. When you see something like that, it’s a very clear indicator that the priority for that organization is their bottom line. It’s profit. It’s seeing as many patients as quickly as you possibly can. The priority is not client care, and it’s certainly not clinician care. So, finding the right organization to work with makes a huge difference.

I can have a fairly easy work-life balance because I don’t have to see patients quickly, right after another. I have 30-minutes for follow-ups and 60-minutes for initial evaluations. I can see my patients, do any collateral calls, and do my charting within that time block. Then, at the end of the day, I’m done.

Q. What are your biggest learnings from your time at Iris?

A: The thing I’ve learned the most about is that there isn’t one way for a company to support their clinicians and their patients. We’re raised as healthcare professionals in the idea that you have to do things fast and only worry about if you can bill for it. We’re taught that this approach is normal and it’s not. Working for an organization that prioritizes patient care and prioritizes their clinicians was eye-opening. I came from a background in community mental health. It wasn’t a for-profit, private practice environment that I came from – it was from public health. So even with that background, learning that there was a different way it could be done was eye-opening for me.

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

A: The most rewarding part of my job is when I see a patient, and at the end of our appointment, they say, “thank you, that was the first time anyone has really listened,” or “you’ve asked more questions than anyone ever has before.” That’s reassuring to know that we’re doing something right. Then, when our clinic partners, the ER physicians, or social workers thank you for coming in and taking that piece of the patient care. If they wanted to be psychiatrists, they would have been psychiatrists. There’s a reason why they’re consulting with us. It’s because we’re specialists and have a passion for something that they don’t. That is rewarding when you get appreciation from your colleagues and certainly from patients.

Q. What do you love about working with Iris?

A: The thing I love most about working with Iris is that it does feel like a team approach, and you’re not just an interchangeable peg that can plug into any situation. When they place you with a clinic or a partner, it’s a very long process. When you’re first starting, you can feel like, “Oh my gosh, why does this take so long?” It’s because they’re finding the right fit. It’s not a locum’s company where they’re not making intentional matches.

When you’re with Iris, it’s an intentional placement. And they don’t hire everyone who applies. It’s less than 10%. You know that you’ve been selected for a placement that will be a good fit for you.

Q. How does telepsychiatry open up access to care?

A: When COVID was forcing many people into working remotely or in a telehealth situation for the first time, there was a lot of hesitancy from both providers and patients. I think having been exposed now to that technology and the ability to have care delivered that way; there’s no going back. I don’t think we can close the floodgates. Even as a patient, I don’t think I ever want to go into a primary care office in person again unless I have to.

It’s really convenient to have access to care at home and to care for patients who don’t have transportation, which was always a barrier – especially in rural health care. Not having to find a ride two hours into a town where the clinic is located is great. It has opened care to people who weren’t getting it before. This is how we’ll continue to provide care to people who need care. This is how we will do things from here on out.

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

A: Telepsychiatry is going to be integral and continues to be integral for mental health care because there are not enough mental health clinicians. There certainly aren’t enough to have one provider in every single rural role and underserved community in America. We’re able to see patients in many different settings and spread that expertise and spread that knowledge to people who may not otherwise have any access to care.

A good example is the work I do with consult liaison. In a consult liaison role, I see patients in eight states and many different settings. There can’t be a psychiatric nurse practitioner or a psychiatrist on site in every one of those hospitals, 24/7. But, with Iris and with our on-demand services, there is. There’s essentially a mental health specialist in every clinic and hospital, 24/7, 365. There’s no way to do it without the use of telehealth. And, it’s a real disservice to patients not to have access to that level of specialized care.

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 Courtney Bearden. If you’d like to learn more about working for Iris Telehealth, contact us today.

Category: Blog

Over the past few years, the number of Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioners (PMHNPs) has been steadily increasing — passing the 12,000 mark in 2016.

In many states, PMHNPs can evaluate, diagnose, and prescribe medication to patients — just like their psychiatric counterparts. That means organizations can incorporate PMHNPs into their overarching strategies to help address the nationwide shortage of behavioral health providers, meet their patient populations’ needs, and decrease patient wait times.

If you’re a healthcare organization looking to expand access to your behavioral health services and are considering which type of provider would be the best fit for your community, here’s everything you need to know about PMHNPs.

PMHNPs are highly-trained psychiatric care providers who can provide comparable treatment to psychiatrists

Due to the nationwide provider shortage, finding psychiatrists for your care team might not be an option. Thankfully, PMHNPs are just as equipped to provide the high-quality care patients need. While PMHNPs and psychiatrists are different provider types and have different training and education requirements, the treatment they can provide is very similar.

  • Both PMHNPs and psychiatrists have graduate-level education, and PMHNPs are required to have either a Master’s or Doctorate in nursing to sit for the PMHNP certification exam.
  • Once a PMHNP is certified, they can practice across the patient lifespan — meaning they can treat children, adolescents, adults, and geriatric populations.
  • While psychiatrists can also treat patients across their lifespan, they often opt to undergo further fellowship training that equips them to treat specialized patient populations.
  • Both PMHNPs and psychiatrists are eligible to earn an X-waiver, which allows them to prescribe buprenorphine to treat patients with substance use disorders.

PMHNPs receive training around holistic care — which makes them a good provider fit for CMHCs and FQHCs

PMHNPs can be a major benefit to your organization, especially if your organization serves patients from vulnerable populations, like Community Mental Health Centers (CMHCs), Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinic (CCBHCs) and Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHCs).

Recent studies have found that the quality of PMHNP care is similar or equal to that of psychiatrists. Additionally, much of the training they receive works well for the kinds of patient populations CMHCs and FQHCs often see.

Like psychiatrists, all PMHNPs receive training around assessing, diagnosing, and treating patients with mental health needs. However, PMHNPs also focus on holistic care, and they have skills and experience in treating the whole patient.

Their specialized training includes:

  • Psychotherapy and behavioral health conditions:PMHNPs receive extensive training in psychotherapy and can effectively treat common behavioral health conditions, including mood disorders, anxiety, substance use, depression, ADHD, and schizophrenia.
  • Crisis intervention and directing patient care planning:PMNHPs have experience in crisis intervention and can utilize de-escalation techniques to support patients who enter your health center in a state of distress. PMHNPs are also skilled at care coordination and can help provide consultations and referrals to psychiatrists and other specialists if a patient’s case requires it.
  • Collaborative care:PMHNPs are trained to work in collaborative care teams, where they may work with psychiatrists, social workers, community managers, or nurses to find a care plan that can treat a specific patient’s needs effectively.
  • Effective communication with patient families:PMHNPs are equipped to interact with patient families or caregivers — particularly when treating young patients or patients from vulnerable populations.

If these skills and experiences would benefit your organization, a PMHNP may be a good fit for you.

If you’re considering hiring a PMHNP, make sure you understand your state’s regulations

Unlike psychiatrists, PMHNPs are subject to state regulations that dictate the kind of care they can provide. For example, a PMHNP in Texas could see patients and provide assessment and diagnosis — but they would not be able to prescribe without having an established Prescriptive Authority Agreement in place with a physician. However, in Oregon, a PMHNP can prescribe medication without a physician’s collaboration and can even practice independently.

States fall into three regulatory categories:

  1. Full practice:In full practice states, PMHNPs can evaluate, diagnose, and treat patients by prescribing medications without consulting with a physician. In these states, PMHNPs can also set up independent practices. There are currently 23 full practice states across the country.
  2. Reduced practice:Reduced practice states limit PMHNPs’ ability to practice fully and independently. Often, PMHNPs will be required to hold a collaborative agreement with a psychiatrist in order to provide full patient care and prescribe medications to treat their patients.
  3. Restricted practice:In restricted practice states, PMHNPs must work directly with a psychiatrist or other healthcare provider and cannot prescribe medications to patients without that psychiatrist’s supervision. There are currently 12 restricted practice states in the U.S.

When considering which provider type to hire, you should research what kinds of regulations exist in your state. If you live in a restrictive state, plan to have consulting psychiatrists available to prescribe medication in collaboration with your PMHNP.

Hiring PMHNPs can be a challenging task, so consider the recruitment resources available

If you’ve decided PMHNPs are a good fit for your organization, there are several recruitment options and partners you can consider:

  • Nurse practitioner associations:If you’re looking for a local PMHNP, you can research nurse practitioner associations at the regional and state level. These associations often have job boards where you can post potential openings and get your position in front of qualified candidates.
  • Local universities:Universities with nursing programs will often also have job boards and can be beneficial partners when looking for a PMHNP in your area.
  • Telepsychiatry: Telepsychiatry partners like Iris Telehealth can be valuable resources to help your organization source and vet potential PMHNPs before adding them to your team. Using a service like this will give you access to PMHNPs at a national level, opening up a network of qualified providers and helping to get them licensed in your state.

Your decision to use a PMHNP should be all about your patients

Because psychiatrists’ availability is limited across the country, particularly in rural communities, it’s essential to consider how your organization can best serve your patient populations and provide high-quality care.

PMHNPs bring valuable experience dealing with sick patients and vulnerable populations to the table, which can be a major benefit to your organization. This is particularly true for CMHCs and FQHCs, who often see a high volume of patients from vulnerable populations.

PMHNPs are also incredibly passionate about their work. In an interview with one of our own PMHNPs, Dale McQueeney, she says that one of themost rewarding parts of her job is seeing patients reduce use or achieve and maintain abstinence from substances. 

Most importantly, PMHNPs can serve as key behavioral health providers. They can extend access to your services, meet patient needs, decrease wait times, and become long-term, collaborative team members.

To learn more about how Iris Telehealth can help you source PMHNPs who would be a good fit for your organization, contact us, and we’ll help you get started.