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Tag Archives: Best Practices

Striking the right balance between prioritizing quality patient care and managing everyday leadership tasks is pivotal for healthcare organizations. But it’s not always easy. Hospitals and clinics have safety and quality metrics they must report on, and sometimes it’s unclear who’s responsible and whether they have the training and skills to do that type of work.

During my years at Iris, I’ve seen many clinics promote staff members into leadership positions based on seniority rather than on that person having experience in leadership or administration. That’s where leveraging an Iris provider as a virtual medical director for a behavioral health program can be a great move.

Our providers are integrated into the organizations in which they see patients. They know the staff, the patients, and the clinical challenges that the organization faces, but they can also be involved in higher-level discussions and the administrative decision-making and leadership required for clinics to maintain safety and quality reporting.

In this article, I’ll share some of my insights into how leveraging a virtual medical director works, the benefits they can bring to an organization, and how on-site teams can build trust with a virtual medical director.

How leveraging a virtual medical director works

In many places across the country, our providers serve as virtual medical directors as well as behavioral health providers. Generally, the hours are divided so the providers and staff can know which hat is being worn when.

For example, we carve out administrative time with regular meeting cadences to meet with staff and go over things like policy reviews, safety incidences, and quality metrics – and perform supervisory services when needed. That provider will also have clinical hours where they deliver psychiatric services to patients through regular appointments.

It’s important to delineate how the provider uses their hours each day to prevent confusion. There are always a lot of patients to see, so the medical director may not have the time to do the administrative work if it’s not scheduled. Setting goals, having a solid job description and expectations, and protecting time for weekly administrative and leadership meetings are essential to success in the medical director’s role.

How to build trust between an on-site staff and virtual medical director

The way humans interact is really changing. While the gold standard in healthcare has been in-person care, on-site behavioral health services aren’t always available — this became painfully apparent during the pandemic. Not only did clinics and hospitals need more providers to serve the surge of patients seeking behavioral healthcare, they needed new leadership models and staffing structures.

Telemedicine enabled us to serve so many clinics and hospitals around the country, but coming out of the pandemic, we also knew that being an organization that clinics and hospitals could trust to do virtual care well was important. We were able to demonstrate that finding a virtual behavioral health provider who can be a leader and who truly cares about your community and your clinic helps build that trust – even if they’re three or four states away.

At Iris, we’ve found the key to building that trust is open, honest, and transparent communication — it’s at the core of everything we do. We get to know the on-site team members on a first-name basis and become comfortable with each other clinically, professionally, and personally. Our goal is for our virtual behavioral health providers to be as accessible as any on-site provider might be — that’s one of the ways to build trust.

As a provider, I’ve also found making yourself available online, just as you would in person, is helpful for building trust and engagement with an on-site team.

For example, leaving your office door cracked is the universal sign that you’re available to staff when you’re not with a patient. With virtual care, leaving your video on between patients or meetings allows staff to virtually pop in and say “hi” or ask a question related to patient care. So even if you’re on a screen, the on-site staff feel like you’re present. That’s the quality and integrity of the interactions we strive for at Iris.

How to set your virtual medical director up for success

Setting up your medical director for success involves developing clear goals and objectives as well as clear boundaries.

A few questions we’ve found helpful to ask in this process are:

  • How many hours will your medical director need for the administrative function?
  • Who held this role before? What were their challenges? Why did they leave?
  • What are the expectations of this role?
  • What meetings, supervision, and oversight are required in this role?
  • What would success in this role look like to your team?

We’ve helped many organizations develop job descriptions to help them answer these questions as they pertain to their unique clinical workflow and staffing matrix.

For example, a remote medical director might be responsible for working with the Chief Financial Officer or operations team. They might need to put together presentations to demonstrate the safety and quality initiatives your organization is tracking and how your organization responds to – and measures the success of – new initiatives.

Additionally, there are financial metrics, quality reports, coding, and all sorts of things a virtual medical director is regularly reviewing.

Breaking down the responsibilities of a virtual medical director

A medical director’s role is really focused on directing the clinical delivery of care and the quality, safety, and integrity of that care so patients get the help they need and providers get the support they need. This can be done through virtual leadership just as easily as through traditional on-site leadership.

In my experience, supporting teams of providers – including doctors, nurse practitioners, nurses, and therapists –is very meaningful whether it is done in person or virtually.

Medical directors can be a sounding board for providers to bounce ideas off of as well as a resource for dealing with challenging clinical cases. Behavioral health patients can have high levels of acuity and sometimes have needs that providers can’t meet, so supporting colleagues and staff in their efforts to deal with dissatisfied patients can be very helpful.

Again, such support can be offered virtually by a medical director just as it might be done in person.

Where Iris Telehealth fits in

By working with a virtual care provider like Iris, your organization has a larger pool of providers to draw from. Whether you have a small office or a large clinic that needs help finding a medical director, we can help you find one that your staff and patients will enjoy working with.

If you’d like to learn more about our experience matching organizations with a virtual medical director, be sure to read through our case study from Chesapeake Integrated Behavioral Healthcare in Virginia. You can read the full piece here.

If you‘d like to talk to someone about potentially hiring a medical director, be sure to contact us today. We’d be happy to talk through the process and learn more about your needs.

Dr. Tom Milam manages our team of clinicians and guides them in telemedicine and industry best practices. He received his undergraduate degree from WVU in Anthropology, graduating summa cum laude, and received his M.D. from the University of Virginia. His residency training in psychiatry took place at Duke and UVA. Dr. Milam has served in a leadership role throughout his psychiatric career and spearheaded the telepsychiatry initiative at his previous hospital.

Tag Archives: Best Practices

Quality management is paramount to making sure you stay on track with your behavioral health goals.

Let’s take a look at how to define quality management, the benefits of quality management, and quality initiatives your organization can put into action.

The importance of quality improvement in behavioral health

Ensuring your patients get the quality care they need by assessing the impact of your behavioral health programming is essential.

Here’s what Iris Telehealth’s Executive Director of Quality, Yara Nielsenshultz, RN, MS, CPHQ, had to say about the importance of having a quality management strategy in place:

Yara Nielsenshultz, RN, MS, CPHQ, Executive Director of Quality

We cannot know for sure if we’re impacting patient outcomes without measuring them. We can think we’re doing a good job (or not), and we can look at the qualitative evidence, which is important and should not be discounted. But, without some quantitative measurement or goal in mind, we cannot be certain of whether we’re making meaningful improvement.

That’s where having a quality management strategy comes into play. It forces organizations to think about what excellent care looks like to identify opportunities to improve, take action, and, most importantly, effect meaningful change.

Focusing on quality improvement initiatives are critical to treatment outcomes, efficiency, patient safety, and timely care. By tracking and knowing with certainty how your behavioral health programs are performing, you can be sure that your patients are getting the best care possible.

To get more of our expertise, download our guide on the impact of quality management in healthcare.

Seven healthcare quality measures your organization can track

In behavioral health, objective measurement of treatment effectiveness can be challenging.

However, determining specific performance measures and goals and then gathering data on those measures provides meaningful, actionable information. This information is critical to identifying opportunities to improve and track the effectiveness of any initiatives or changes you implement over time.

Here are seven healthcare quality measures your organization can track to ensure your behavioral health program is operating as smoothly as possible:

  1. Wait time: Monitoring this metric helps avoid waste (time, resources, or equipment), and provides promptness of services (reducing wait times, eliminating discharge delays, etc.)
  2. No-shows: Monitoring and improving no-show rates supports consistency, which may improve patient outcomes and access to care while also optimizing provider time
  3. Performing validated screening: Using validated screening tools, such as PHQ-9, GAD-7, or C-SSRS, provides measurable data to help monitor the impact of healthcare services or interventions on the health status of patients
  4. Safety events; suicide: It’s critical to monitor safety events, such as treatment errors or suicide, so your team can prevent and reduce errors and protect patients
  5. Timely response to patients: Tracking and optimizing response times ensures services are respectful and responsive to patient’s needs while providing the same high level of care to everyone
  6. Patient Reported Outcomes (PROMs): Tracking patient-reported outcomes provides measurable data on patients’ perception of treatment effectiveness, which complements patient satisfaction and can inform quality improvement activities
  7. Patient satisfaction: Implementing surveys or measures to understand patient satisfaction delivers key insights into perceptions of the care patients receive

Tracking these measures is essential for improving the quality and monitoring of your behavioral health program. However, doing it alone can be overwhelming. That’s why having a partner who can help you track these metrics and work to improve upon them is key.

The keys to quality improvement in healthcare

At Iris, we collaborate with partners to optimize their behavioral health programs and maximize their benefits. That means we collaborate and exchange data, aggregate and report information, and help their team improve upon identified quality improvement metrics.

From our experience, these are the three pillars we’ve found that make a successful quality management solution:

  1. Ongoing monitoring: Meeting quality measures means keeping track of key metrics through ongoing monitoring. By leveraging a partner who effectively monitors quality measures, you’re better positioned to meet performance standards and stay on top of accreditation, certification, and regulatory requirements.
  2. Regular communication: To help stay on top of key metrics, regular touch bases to analyze quality metrics and compare how your performance tracks against target goals are essential. In addition to frequent touch points, at Iris, we deliver easily understandable visualizations, identify trends, and look for opportunities for improvement.
  3. Customized reports: Access to customized reports can help your team know how your organization is tracking. At Iris, we interpret data in an easy-to-understand way that helps provide guidance and recommendations for the best next steps for your organization to meet quality improvement initiatives. We help monitor, evaluate, and improve on selected quality measures like patient outcomes, patient satisfaction, efficiency, and resource utilization.

Partnering with an organization that provides quality management alongside their behavioral health programs offers many benefits, including adding additional resources to support your organization’s quality initiatives, supporting positive patient outcomes, and helping meet accreditation, certification, and regulatory requirements.

Where Iris Telehealth fits in

At Iris, we’ve helped our partners reduce the length of stay in their MedSurg units by 0.5 days, increased ED discharge rates from 55% to 62%, and reduced their length of stay in the ED from 12 to 9 hours.

Additionally, as a Joint Commission-accredited medical group, we have the expertise to help organizations monitor and address gaps to meet required standards and quality measures. We’ve also helped partners track no-show rates and helped compare provider performance to uncover best practices that were then replicated and implemented across care teams.

To learn more about how you can improve quality initiatives at your organization, contact our downloadable, The Impact of Quality Management in Healthcare. Or, if you’d like to talk to someone to learn how we can help jumpstart your quality initiatives or behavioral health program, contact us today.

Tag Archives: Best Practices

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!

Tag Archives: Best Practices

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.

Tag Archives: Best Practices

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.

Tag Archives: Best Practices

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.

Tag Archives: Best Practices

Medical groups and telehealth locum tenens groups are often compared but have distinct differences in their approach to patient care, the provider selection process, and care team integration. At Iris Telehealth, we’re a medical group facilitating telepsychiatry services to communities across the country. Our behavioral health providers work with patients and organizations to provide high-quality, value-based care.

So, what’s the difference between a medical group approach and telehealth locum tenens approach? Keep reading to learn more about telehealth locum tenens, how their approach differs from a medical group solution, and how telepsychiatry can bring the best value to healthcare organizations across the U.S.

What does it mean to be a telehealth locum tenens group?

Telehealth locum tenens are typically used for part-time or short-term provider fills. Regionally, locum tenens have niche groups that provide temporary work when organizations need an extra hand. For example, if a provider goes on maternity or disability leave, a locum’s group could provide a temporary fill for their position. Providers could be contracted anywhere from six to 12 months (if your organization needs a provider to serve a long-term position for your community, a locum tenens group is probably not for you).

Telehealth locum tenens may also be used when a healthcare organization doesn’t have adequate behavioral health support and need additional physician staffing. Hospitals or health systems may work with a telehealth locums group to help supplement gaps like those left by the ongoing provider shortage. At the height of the pandemic, 85% of healthcare facilities utilized locum tenens.

While locums telepsychiatry services typically provide short-term solutions, medical groups like Iris have the staying power to make a meaningful impact on the healthcare organizations they serve.

Three distinct differences between telehealth locum tenens and telepsych partners

Even though locums telepsychiatry services may be a convenient solution, achieving long-term stability can be challenging for their partners. Long-term stability takes shape in several ways – including cost, collaboration, and continuity of care. Although a challenge for locums, long-term stability is where a solution like a dedicated telepsychiatry partner shines. Let’s take a closer look at how these two approaches compare.

Cost: Locums come with a higher hourly rate for a short-term fill. Higher costs can prove difficult for organizations for obvious reasons like expense, but the extra lift of licensing and credentialing each new provider can also become tedious. With locums telepsychiatry services, your team also has to run point on any background checks, paperwork, and reference checks that must take place.

At Iris, we manage all recruiting, supporting, and supervising costs. Additionally, we handle all the licensing and credentialing to help make the implementation process as smooth as possible. By tailoring market rates, finding the best solution for your organization’s challenges, and strategizing to find the most cost-effective solution, we create an implementation process that works for everyone.

Collaboration: Integration is an essential part of our approach to care. Iris providers become a seamless part of your care team, building trust and rapport with your patients and your organization. Securing this trust between providers in the same health networks creates comfort and reliability.

For locums, without a long-term provider solution, it’s difficult for an organization’s providers to feel like the locum tenens physicians are part of the team, and can make it challenging to build concrete workflows.

Continuity of care: The beauty of securing a long-term provider fit is the relationship that can build between patients and providers. When patients can see the same provider consistently, the patient experience is better. But, when organizations have high provider turnover rates, patients have to continually re-tell their stories – which can negatively impact engagement. This turnover can create distrust, increase no-show rates, and even cause a patient to convert to a clinic that provides a long-term solution.

With these components at play, working with a provider who can deliver on cost, integration, and continuity of care can be essential to your organization’s success.

The value of job matching

At Iris, job matching is an essential piece of the puzzle. When matching a provider with an organization, we take several things into consideration to ensure the match is right.

The Iris Match includes:

  • Provider experience
  • The mentality of the organization’s executive team
  • Prescribing philosophies
  • Personality match
  • And much more

In contrast, most locum tenens groups look at age, range, specialty, where they’re licensed, and run the standard checks – but the process stops there.

Locums telepsychiatry solutions can gloss over the critical details that help create stability and long-term job satisfaction. At Iris, we value clinician happiness and want our providers to feel good at their jobs. That’s why we take an extra step to get to know our providers, understand what they want, and learn how we can match them with an organization that meets their needs.

Additionally, our licensing and credentialing team allows us the flexibility to look outside of the state for providers who might have more pertinent experience for the position an organization is trying to fill.

Positive outcomes from a medical group approach

Partnership is a central component of a medical group’s approach to care. For Iris, it’s an essential part of who we are and what we value. From the beginning, our partners meet with key stakeholders at Iris who get to know what they’re looking for, their needs, their model, and what it takes to make a successful provider match. We’re also clinically driven and have clinical leaders that help educate our recruiters.

Based on this approach, we’ve been able to secure successful matches and drive positive outcomes for our partners, like Swope Health and Spectrum Healthcare. Together, we helped them achieve the following outcomes for their population:

  • Secure the right provider match for their community
  • Guarantee functioning telepsychiatry systems
  • Seamless provider integration
  • Increase their show rates
  • And reduce their waiting list

We care about our partners and the mental health of their patients. That’s why we take time to make thoughtful matches, like we did at Swope and Spectrum, to help expand care and drive better outcomes.

Where Iris fits in

At Iris, we work with you to create a long-term placement that facilitates high-quality care for your patients and care team. We provide support along the way to help with implementation and customized workflows and assist your care team with licensing and credentialing.

If you would like to talk more about how we can help your organization secure a long-term provider fit, contact us today.

Tag Archives: Best Practices

As more states become eligible for Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinic (CCBHC) certification and funding, healthcare organizations are considering becoming CCBHCs. The opportunities for CCBHCs continue to expand, and it’s in your organization’s best interest to consider obtaining CCBHC certification. The certification process can be labor-intensive but it offers many benefits to organization and patients.

In this piece, we’ll discuss the requirements, challenges, and how to become a certified community behavioral health clinic.

What is a Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinic (CCBHC)?

The CCBHC program began in 2014 to identify healthcare organizations with exceptional, comprehensive care and provide them with additional funding to increase access to services. It’s grown since then, and Congress has appropriated annual funds for CCBHC expansion grants since 2018. These grants allow CCBHCs to expand access to care. However, existing funds are not intended for long-term sustainability, and states are working to expand the state CCBHC model within state Medicaid programs to account for long-term growth. Bipartisan federal legislation was introduced in 2020 to extend CCBHC programs to new states and expand the reach of currently existing CCBHCs.

The fact that both state and federal governments are prioritizing CCBHCs is a testament to their success and essential work in the community. And, CCBHCs distinguish themselves from more traditional care models in a number of ways, including:

  • Their emphasis on increasing access to care
  • Their “open-door policy” requires them to serve anyone needing care. They partner with local primary care facilities and hospitals. They integrate with physical health care to serve patients’ mental and physical health needs
  • Their tailored care for active-duty military and veterans and commitment to involving peers and family in care processes
  • To learn more about CCBHCs and what they provide, check out this resource from the National Council for Mental Wellbeing.

CCBHCs serve everyone without limitations on geographic location or ability to pay because of the additional funding they receive.

How do logistics differ from other mental health providers?

You’ll notice shorter wait times for CCBHC mental health services than you would working with other mental health providers. CCBHCs aim for a five-day wait time for new intakes, and most also have walk-in clinics. Some CCBHCs even provide same-day access.

CCBHCs are also required to provide 24/7/365 access to crisis care, including mobile crisis teams and crisis hotlines.

On top of shorter wait times, a few other CCBHC requirements include:

  • Evidence-based practices: As a CCBHC, you must maintain an additional level of quality by using evidence-based practices for every process.
  • MAT: You’ll need a care coordinator who offers medication-assisted treatment (MAT) for substance use disorders.
  • Payment: You’ll have to establish a sustainable payment program that allows the practice to exist even without grants or additional government funding.

Who is eligible for CCBHC certification?

All nonprofit health centers are eligible to become CCBHCs. Many organizations fall into the nonprofit category, including:

  • Community Mental Health Centers (CMHCs)
  • Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHCs)
  • State mental health clinics
  • Tribal health organizations
  • Other nonprofit health centers

While for-profit clinics cannot individually be certified as CCBHCs, they can be certified collaborating partners of a CCBHC system.

The pros and cons of CCBHC certification

Of course, there are pros and cons to CCBHC certification. Benefits of certification include the fact that your organization is held to a higher standard. These stands mean you provider better care for patients and eligibility for more funding even beyond the CCBHC grants. Cons include the lengthy and involved process and the fact that you’ll need a dedicated implementation team to become certified.

If you decide the pros outweigh the cons, your next step will be a three-part process to prepare your organization for certification.

You’ll first set expectations for your team, then review your policies and procedures while simultaneously evaluating your MAT protocol. We’ll review each of these steps below.

  1. Set expectations: As you’re considering the process, set expectations within your organization. It can take up to a year to get off the ground as a CCBHC and will be an involved process. Large organizations may be able to move through the process more easily, as they may already be providing many of the services required for CCBHC certification. Smaller organizations may take a couple of years to increase staffing to a point that will make them viable CCBHC candidates.
  2. Review policies and procedures: CCBHCs must accept all patients and use evidence-based practices. You’ll need to review all of your policies and procedures to ensure every action you currently take is deliberate and documented. If your clinic uses the “we’ve always done it this way” mentality, your policies will not hold up under scrutiny by accreditors. Reviewing policies is a major task, as it means policies ranging from how you prescribe medications to cleaning processes for the laundry room must be documented. Today, Electronic Medical Records (EMRs) make it easier to track the number of patients served, services they receive, follow-up times for crisis calls, and more. While many health centers are already capturing this data for internal purposes, it’s important to ensure data is captured consistently and reported to external auditors.
  3. MAT protocol: Clinics who aren’t already offering medication-assisted treatment (MAT) may find the MAT requirement a barrier as they consider certification. Consider what your center currently offers, and remember your clinic does not have to be a full free-standing methadone or suboxone clinic but does need to provide evidence-based MAT.

Fortunately, you don’t have to reinvent the wheel! Many other clinics have gone through the process, and templates for policies and procedures reduce some of the work. Don’t be afraid to ask for help and use the resources available. There are databases across the country for clinics to share resources.

What other challenges could I encounter?

The process for gaining CCBHC certification is constantly in motion. Staff turnover is one of the biggest challenges you could face during implementation. If your staff turns over during the quality management phase, you may lose progress and crucial internal knowledge.

To account for this potential challenge, make sure you have a reliable point person, usually the clinic’s director of quality management, to lead the project and be the final point of contact. Once certified, your quality management team will also have to prepare for audits and answer auditors’ questions on demand.

Be proactive, not reactive

We hope this discussion has given you some insight into the world of CCBHCs. Just as hospitals were striving for Joint Commission accreditation years ago, we believe nonprofit health centers will soon need to move toward CCBHC certification to ensure they’re providing the best quality care. Leaders in the field can influence the future of community mental health care by being CCBHC certified early instead of being forced to become certified in the future.

More resources

Also, remember that sister centers within your state and other healthcare provider have gone through the process can be valuable resources.

As always, Iris Telehealth is here to guide you. Contact us for more information about CCBHC certification and benefits.

Tag Archives: Best Practices

Approximately 1.3% of the United States population identifies as Native American or Alaskan Native. In 2020, it was reported that over 19% of this population experienced a mental health condition.

Although many individuals in these populations require treatment, the majority of Native Americans reside in rural areas where access to mental health services is severely limited. Thankfully, telehealth can help bridge the gap and connect this community to culturally competent behavioral health services that meet them where they are.

Want to know how your organization can help increase access to care for this population? Take a closer look below:

Table of Contents
Barriers to mental health care for the Native American community
Best practices for mental health organizations
The benefits of telehealth for the Native American community
How Iris Telehealth can help

Barriers to behavioral health care for the Native American community

Access to healthcare can come with various challenges, including a lack of culturally competent care, a shortage of specialty providers, and cultural and systemic barriers that can influence behavioral health outcomes.

Let’s examine some of the most significant obstacles this community faces when seeking care.

  • Lack of culturally competent care: One of the most considerable barriers for the Native American population is the lack of culturally competent care available where they live. Many behavioral health providers may not understand the unique cultural experiences of Native American individuals and families, which may lead to inadequate treatment or misunderstandings. However, working with a telehealth group that facilitates provider matching services can help organizations find a clinician who is passionate about serving this community and trained in providing culturally competent care.
  • Historical trauma: Native Americans have a history of trauma due to colonialism, forced relocation, and genocide. The trauma inflicted on Native American populations can impact their mental health today, leading to substance use, depression, anxiety, low self-esteem, and even suicidal ideation. For providers, it’s important to acknowledge where they are in their own learning and awareness of indigenous culture and experience. Working with providers who maintain curiosity and openness about a person’s cultural history can help reinforce identity and resilience among patients.
  • Speciality care: For the Native American population facing disproportionately high rates of substance use disorder, increased suicide, and depression getting the right specialty care is essential. Without specialty care, patients may rely on primary care physicians or general practitioners for mental health care. While these providers do their best to address mental health needs, a provider with specialized training and experience is best suited for patients with complex needs. With increased access to specialty care, Native American patients can receive accurate assessments, comprehensive treatment, and complex medication regimens if needed.
  • Mental health deserts: For Native Americans living in healthcare deserts, getting to an in-person appointment may not be possible. According to a study by GoodRx Health, more than 113,000 American Indians and Alaska Natives live in 492 counties that lack mental health providers. The research also found that over 90% of these areas are rural and have limited healthcare resources. These mental health deserts can exacerbate access issues and put care further out of reach.

How organizations can address mental health in the Native American community

While Native American populations may face considerable challenges in receiving mental health care, organizations can play a fundamental role in addressing these barriers.

Here are four strategies that healthcare organizations can use to improve access and outcomes for Native American populations:

  1. Leverage social media: Social media can be a powerful tool mental health organizations can use to connect with the Native American community. Social media has the power to reach a wider audience, provide resources, and bring awareness to mental health issues. For example, organizations can leverage social media to promote local events like community health fairs, food drives, or other happenings that create a safe space for Native Americans to help address their needs.
  2. Establish partnerships in the community: Mental health organizations can establish partnerships with other organizations in the Native American community to help improve access to mental health care. This strategy can include partnerships with tribal health clinics, community health centers, or other organizations that serve this population. By working together, mental health organizations and community partners can help build trust, increase awareness, and provide more comprehensive behavioral health care services.
  3. Work with culturally competent behavioral health providers: Understanding the history of healthcare within a community is vital. Is there a language for mental health? Are mental health diagnoses a sign of weakness in a specific culture or community? By identifying and understanding the difference in history and culture, your organizations can meet people where they are and provide more effective care to different communities.
  4. Implement telehealth: Healthcare organizations can offer alternative care delivery methods to the Native American population, like telehealth. Remote solutions can help overcome some of the barriers to access by providing Native American patients with greater access to behavioral health care services.

How telehealth can help address mental health in the Native American community

Here are a few ways telehealth can increase access and improve the quality of care for the Native American community:

  • Culturally competent providers: Telehealth enables the Native American community to connect with culturally competent mental health providers while also granting the organization access to a broader range of specialists who may not be geographically accessible otherwise. At Iris, our provider matching process allows organizations to find the best telemental health provider for the populations they serve. When facilitating provider matching services, we look for a provider who aligns with your organization’s prescribing philosophy and help ensure they are passionate about serving your community and knowledgeable about your population.
  • Flexibility: In addition to increasing access to mental health providers and having a provider who can meet the needs of your community, telehealth can offer flexibility in scheduling and transportation for Native American populations. For those who reside in remote areas of the country, a remote behavioral health care option can reduce transportation barriers.
  • Confidentiality: Many Native American communities are tight-knit, with many members of the family being interconnected. Therefore, Native American populations may also face stigma from family and community members when seeking mental health care treatment. Telehealth can offer a more comfortable and confidential setting for those seeking mental health services, especially when discussing mental health concerns with a provider outside their community.

How Iris Telehealth can help

Iris Telehealth can assist your health system by connecting your community with providers who understand your population and can provide the specialty care they need.

If you’d like to learn more about how Iris can help implement a telepsychiatry solution to provide more accessible care options for Native American individuals and families, contact us today.

Tag Archives: Best Practices

When working with populations facing barriers related to social determinants of health, utilizing resources in the community, combined with telehealth, can help connect them to the behavioral health treatment they need.

Jump through the table of contents below and learn how to increase access to mental health services:

The role of social determinants of health in behavioral health care
Types of partnerships your organization can leverage
How remote providers can connect patients with local resources
Where Iris Telehealth fits in

The role of social determinants of health in behavioral health care

Access to quality behavioral health care is vital to a patient’s health. However, many individuals and families struggle to get the care they need due to social determinants of health (SDOH). Here are a few ways SDOH can impact mental health and quality of life:

  • Finances: More than 1 in 5 patients need assistance to afford their prescription medication. Medication adherence can be a challenge for uninsured patients with costly medication or for those who have insurance that doesn’t cover prescription costs. In some cases, patients have to choose between paying for groceries, their prescriptions, or rent when faced with high prices.
  • Housing Insecurity: Patients who move around a lot due to housing insecurity can face more challenges receiving consistent mental health care. For example, patients often need a home address to qualify for special assistance programs, which can affect their ability to afford treatment. Additionally, many services patients spend time applying and preparing for become obsolete without housing stability. For children, moving around a lot can be disruptive to their education.
  • Food Insecurity: Food insecurity is associated with a higher risk of anxiety and depression. When patients can’t feed themselves, their physical and mental health is impacted. Malnutrition leads to a greater risk for chronic health conditions, which can also increase the risk of depression and other behavioral health care challenges.
  • Education: Receiving immunizations can be a significant barrier for undocumented children, as they often require showing proof of citizenship. When children are forced out of the school system, they lose out on many resources that the education system provides. A lack of education can impact social support, health literacy, and can contribute to poor mental health outcomes.

Let’s take a closer look at the type of partnerships organizations can leverage to help make a positive impact on patients experiencing SDOH.

Community resources to leverage for social determinants of health

Partnering with stakeholders and organizations in your community to fund programs can have many benefits for your patients. While many of these partnerships are non-traditional, innovative efforts through collaboration can improve healthcare outcomes. Here are just a few examples of organizations for potential partnership opportunities:

  • Government: Local governments serve as a vital resource for external funding. They can advance health equity by sharing valuable data on which populations in your community experience worse health outcomes. This information can give insight into the distribution of resources and what resources are available. Additionally, by attending meetings hosted by local government, healthcare leaders can become thought leaders and key stakeholders in the community.
  • Faith-based organizations: Churches, temples, and other religious congregations can improve care delivery and quality of health care for many community members. A religious congregation provides a place to access treatment and preventive services without fear of discrimination or government interference. This advantage is especially helpful for immigrants or refugees who have established trust within their religious community. For example, sometimes child and adult immunizations can be offered at a community’s local faith-based organization without a need for IDs and other paperwork.
  • Educational organizations: Universities, colleges, and schools are a great way to disseminate health and mental wellness resources to the community. Coordinating with schools could look like hosting events together, directly offering mental health services on campus, or developing joint programs to promote student access to health care. Workshops and seminars allow an excellent way to educate students on relevant mental health topics.
  • Mission-based organizations: These kinds of organizations include National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) or Mental Health America (MHA) for broad mental health resources, the Trevor Project for LGBTQIA+ youth to support specific underserved populations, and more can expand your organization’s knowledge base and your network. For example, partnering with a mission-based organization that helps veterans can be an effective way to connect with veterans who need mental health care.
  • Community organizations: Food banks, social services, and other community organizations can provide beneficial partnerships. Additionally, connecting with cultural community organizations allows providers to share mental health resources that meet the specific needs of that community.

It’s also essential to attend community events and encourage your on-site providers to do the same.

How remote providers can connect patients with local resources

Telehealth meets SDOH head-on by connecting patients with providers regardless of where they live. Having a provider that provides specialty care, while also helping their clients stay connected with local resources, can help improve outcomes that have the potential to be impacted negatively by social determinants of health.

For remote providers, staying connected to the community they serve can be achieved by being flexible, creative, and proactive in their approach to care. As a healthcare organization, you can encourage your providers to stay connected with their patient’s local resources.

A few ways your providers can achieve this connection is through signing up for newsletters, following local government on social media, and staying informed on the most recent information and events in the community. While telehealth can make providers physically incapable of being there, they have options to connect with their community and stay in the know virtually.

Where Iris Telehealth fits in

At Iris, we partner with communities in need of mental health resources. Through partnerships with community organizations and stakeholders, healthcare organizations can build programs and services dedicated to address the unique needs of the community they serve, including the implementation or improvement of telepsychiatry services. Partnering with Iris allows members of your community to receive the care they need when they need it. Contact us today if you would like to learn how telepsychiatry can help your community.

Tag Archives: Best Practices

Every healthcare organization has to strike a balance between ease of use and security when it comes to their EMR. And, if an organization is utilizing a virtual solution, like telepsychiatry, there are several special considerations to keep in mind.

Thankfully, there are best practices your organization can implement to ensure your teams are set up for success.

Top five EMR best practices for new users

Whether you’re bringing a remote provider onto your team for the first time or you’re expanding your virtual services, here’s what you can do to help providers get comfortable with your EMR.

  1. Assign a dedicated super user: Training in the EMR is essential. Assigning a dedicated super user gives a provider someone to lean on for immediate support. If a super user isn’t available, allowing the provider to shadow a peer who offers advice and shares templates can also be beneficial.
  2. Provide on-going training: EMRs vary in complexity and can dictate how much training is required. However, having a training plan in place can help create a better experience for patients and providers. Additionally, ongoing refresh training and e-learning opportunities can be helpful and fit nicely into a provider’s schedule.
  3. Conduct a dry run: For healthcare organizations, it’s essential to consider what processes you have built around the EMR and how much your providers know about these processes before they begin using the tool. Conducting a dry run and creating practice spaces for providers can help drive success in the EMR. At Iris Telehealth, our providers go through an entire test run and learn who they should call and what they should do in an emergent situation.
  4. Prioritize the provider experience: Pajama charting is the work in the EMR that happens after clinic hours. As an organization, it’s important to keep track of the amount of pajama charting a provider conducts. If they’re having trouble completing their charting during the day, it’s an excellent opportunity to reach out to them and better understand their experience.
  5. Provide templates: For telepsychiatry, making templates available is crucial. For example, having templates available for psychiatric evaluations can be greatly beneficial. While general templates can be helpful, they’ll likely need to be tweaked for behavioral health usage.

The key to best-in-class EMR support

Supporting your remote providers is essential to their experience of your EMR. When choosing a telehealth partner, one important thing to consider is whether or not they facilitate IT support for their providers.

At Iris, we’re technology-neutral and can seamlessly integrate into your technology. We also facilitate 24/7 IT support to our providers. Because we’re accustomed to the wide variety of equipment and EMRs on the market, we’re well-versed in the types of problems that might occur. Whether it’s an issue with the VPN or the password, we help reduce the frustration that comes along with technology.

Along with provider support, it’s also important to ensure patients have technical support available. For example, if a patient can’t log into their telehealth appointment, it can create another barrier. This barrier can stop them from getting the care they need. That’s why having an effective consumer workflow is crucial.

Considerations for clinicians using the EMR remotely

For clinicians getting familiar with a new EMR, it can be helpful to know what to expect. It’s useful to have insights into the laws, communication, and other patient interactions.

  • Get familiar with badge laws: For healthcare workers, becoming familiar with state-by-state badge laws can be greatly beneficial. For instance, some states require clinicians to wear a badge that displays their name and credentials. These states may also require providers to show their badge to the patient and have it displayed throughout the call.
  • Ensure patient consent: Another thing providers should keep in mind when interacting with patients virtually is ensuring consent. Consent laws can vary by state. Some states may require different language around consent or consent to be visible to the patient within the telehealth application.
  • Communication is key: Generally, the same rules for in-person care also apply to virtual care. However, one key difference is eye contact. While in-person, the patient may intuitively understand that the provider is looking at their computer to take notes, this action may not be clear virtually. That’s why it’s vital for providers to be explicit and let the patient know they’re looking away to take notes. Training and templates can also help providers become better at charting and improve patient connection.

Where Iris Telehealth fits in

With the right processes in place, your telehealth provider should seamlessly integrate into your team, into your workflows, and successfully navigate your EMR. And for them, using the EMR should be no different than if they were physically present on-site. If you’re interested in integrating a telepsychiatry solution into your organization, Iris can help provide the support you need to get started. Contact us today to learn more!

Tag Archives: Best Practices

For many new mothers, “baby blues” can be a common occurrence lasting up to two weeks after delivery. However, if a mother’s symptoms don’t go away or become more severe, it might be postpartum depression – something 1 in 7 mothers experience. Many cases of postpartum depression in women go unrecognized, but knowing how to identify this condition and connect mothers with the right resources can help increase access to care and get mothers the right help when they need it.

Feel free to jump through the topics of this blog using the table of contents below.

Table of contents
Barriers mothers may encounter when seeking mental health care
How providers can help mothers address their mental health needs
Resources and education opportunities for providers
How Iris Telehealth can help

Barriers mothers may encounter when seeking mental health care

There are many risk factors that can increase chances of postpartum depression, a few of these include: a history of depression and anxiety, lack of support, mothers who carried difficult pregnancies, and mothers of twins. However, it’s important to remember that any person can battle postpartum depression regardless of these risk factors.

Getting mothers the care they need is essential, but gaining this access isn’t always easy. Fortunately, telehealth can help.

Let’s look at a few ways telehealth can help mothers overcome some common challenges they face:

  • Stigma: A study by Frontiers found that as many as 58% of mothers who experience postpartum depression will not reach out for help, with many stating they were to scared to seek help. Whether it’s due to the shame mothers with newborns sometimes feel, or societal stigma, telehealth allows mothers privacy to take their appointments. That way, they don’t have to worry about running into their provider in the community, or someone they know in the waiting room.
  • Social determinants of health: Challenges related to social determinants of health (SDOHs) play a prominent role in keeping mothers from the care they need. Taking time away from their newborns may not be an option for mothers who struggle to find transportation or affordable childcare. Telehealth allows mothers to get the care they need without having to leave their homes. It also connects them to telemental health specialists and postpartum education that may not be available locally.
  • Lack of screening: The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists guidelines recommend that mothers receive screening 10-14 days after giving birth to identify and treat postpartum depression. Theses screenings are important because between appointments, it might be difficult for mothers to remember to bring up how they’re feeling. Whether they’re experiencing feelings of hopelessness, discomfort with sharing, or sadness, screenings can help prompt important conversations. Telehealth allows mothers to check in with their providers to address common postpartum concerns before it interferes with their daily life.

Because of the convenience and access to specialty care, telehealth can be an essential resource in providing care and breaking barriers for people experiencing postpartum depression.

How providers can help mothers address their mental health needs

Providers play an integral part in caring for mothers and their mental health. By understanding maternal mental health conditions like postpartum depression, providers can offer quality treatment to mothers going through challenging times.
Here are three ways providers can use to help mothers address postpartum depression and get proper treatment for their mental health:

  1. Addressing stigma: As a provider, addressing stigma related to managing postpartum depression can help mothers feel more comfortable discussing the condition more openly. Opening up the conversation and emphasizing how prevalent postpartum can be can help mothers feel less alone in their experience. It can also help decrease the probabilty that the mother will internalize the struggle and not seek care.
  2. Educating mothers about their options: Postpartum depression is treatable. By getting mothers involved in education ahead of time and letting them know what to look for during pregnancy and after delivery, it can be easier for them to reach out for help from their providers. From a mental health standpoint, having a child can impact the whole family, and providing education and resources along the way can be beneficial for everyone. For example, let mothers know about support groups, hotlines they can reach out to, and organizations like Postpartum Support International (PSI), Health Resource and Services Administration, and other local resources in their community.
  3. Reach out: Remind mothers that they also need to care for themselves. Having a solid support system is necessary to get through the stress of a new baby. A support system could look like a partner, family member, or friend. As a provider, you can help your patients assess their current support system and encourage them to reach out when necessary. Reaching out to the mother’s pediatrician can also help assess how the mother and the baby are feeling.

Resources and education opportunities for providers

There are many resources for providers looking to learn more about maternal mental health care. Clinicians can further improve the care they provide by learning about specific issues that mothers, children, and families face when there is a postpartum diagnosis or risk.

Here are a few resources that can help you provide quality care to mothers:

  • Postpartum International Certificate Trainings: Postpartum Support International has multiple certificate training programs for providers looking to learn skills related to assessing and treating perinatal mood disorders. There are options for small group discussions, supplemental reading, and live sessions for certificates.
  • 2020 Mom Trainings: 2020 Mom, a national maternal mental health non-profit organization, has a series of training that include eight live sessions, small group discussions, supplemental reading materials, 16 continuing education credits, and a certificate of completion.
  • March of Dimes’ Professional Continuing Education: March of Dimes, an organization committed to maternal and child health, has many continuing education opportunities for healthcare providers caring for birthing persons. Certain CMEs include strategies to increase screening during the perinatal period, identifying risk factors and signs for maternal health disorders, and the impact of maternal health disorders on the mother, baby, and family.
  • Postpartum Support International (PSI) Webinar: This webinar talks about the range of maternal mental health disorders. In this 90-minute free webinar, PSI shares information about the prevalence, signs and symptoms, and recommended treatment options.

How Iris Telehealth can help

At Iris, we help organizations implement telehealth into their practice so they can help more people get the mental health care they need. We connect your patients with clinicians who have experience managing postpartum depression. Contact us today to learn how you can implement a telemental health program that can help the families in your community!