Telepsychiatry Companies

Tag Archives: Best Practices

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.

Tag Archives: Best Practices

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!

Tag Archives: Best Practices

According to the World Health Organization, approximately 15% of adults aged 60 and over have a mental health condition. However, less than 3% of older adults receive treatment from mental health professionals. In some cases, this lack of care is due to inadequate access to mental health services, stigma, or other medical conditions that might need attention, too.

With the proportion of the world’s older adults estimated to almost double from about 12% to 22% between 2015 and 2050, it is more imperative than ever to start addressing both the physical and mental needs of this population.

Thankfully, telepsychiatry can connect older adults to quality mental health care, effective screening, evaluation, and treatment.

The state of mental health and aging

For older adults, there are several barriers that stand between them and getting the mental health care they need. These barriers might include access challenges, unnoticed behavioral health conditions, or co-occurring physical conditions that require treatment. Additionally, according to Mental Health America, 58% believe depression is a normal part of getting older, and only 42% of older adults would seek help from a health professional for depression.

This population can also be vulnerable to other mental health challenges like trauma and anxiety. Unfortunately, many of these conditions go untreated or undiagnosed, resulting in frequent doctor visits, emergency department visits, higher use of medication, and extended hospital stays.

While this population faces unique challenges, there is still great opportunity for them to get the mental health care they need.

How organizations can help effectively treat geriatric populations

As an organization, you can help support the geriatric population in your community by providing access to mental health care through telepsychiatry. Telepsychiatry is an essential tool that helps this population virtually connect with providers without having to navigate through waiting rooms or receive unnecessary exposure to outside elements. When patients connect with a provider from the comfort of their own home, it allows them to receive the care they need from wherever they are.

Whether your organization is seeing a large influx of older adults needing mental health care or you’ve just started integrating telepsychiatry, here are a few tips you can leverage to better serve this population.

Here’s how organizations can take action to offer a more effective and comfortable experience for older adults:

  1. Promote collaboration: The ED can be a costly and high-risk endeavor for older adults. That’s why having support for caregivers and providers can be essential. Before older adults need emergency department (ED) intervention, leveraging telepsychiatry can be a great way to de-escalate situations. Collaborating with caregivers and specialty care providers through telepsychiatry can allow older adults to receive mental health care from anywhere in the country.
  2. Empower caregivers: Caregivers may be juggling the care of their loved ones with their own full-time jobs, families, and even their personal health. As a solution, telehealth offers a new way to bring training to caregivers on their own time. Sharing strategies with caregivers about home safety and medical care through telehealth allows for a better quality of life for the older adults they provide care for at home. Equipping them with the right skills and techniques to care for their loved ones can be a beneficial resource for keeping older adults healthy at home.
  3. Intervene early: Having decision trees or care pathways in place for your providers to follow can keep older adult patients healthy between appointments. Rather than waiting, it’s better to intervene early by starting with screening. Leveraging the expertise of specialty mental health providers can relieve stress on care teams and take the pressure off primary care providers through collaborative care.
  4. Establish memory care units or dementia care: Memory care units or dementia care units can provide older adults with individualized services if diagnosed with Alzheimer’s or dementia. It can also provide a safe environment for easy monitoring while promoting independence.
  5. Take a holistic approach: Provider collaboration leads to a holistic approach to patient care. While addressing the physical health of this population is essential, it’s important to screen them for mental health conditions as well. Telepsychiatry can offer an easier way to diagnose older adults and mitigate emergency intervention. Additionally, integrating a virtual care option can support your on-site team by allowing them to collaborate with other providers.

Promoting access to geriatric mental health through telepsychiatry

Providing telepsychiatry to older adults increases their access to the specialty mental health care they need. While this population may face a stigma that says they’re not tech-savvy, it isn’t true.

Technology usage among older adults has increased during the pandemic. The American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) reports that 44% of older adults view technology as a positive way to stay connected. In addition, the American Psychiatric Association (APA) says that telepsychiatry has helped treat many behavioral health conditions like dementia, anxiety, and others since the late 1900s.

Telepsychiatry for the geriatric population provides patients with a sense of autonomy while extending services to those who cannot leave their homes. As technology usage increases, older adults can feel at ease knowing they have options to take care of their health.

Where Iris Telehealth fits in

At Iris, we believe that everyone should have access to mental health services in their community. If you’re an organization looking to incorporate telepsychiatry for your geriatric population, we can help. Contact us today if you would like to learn more about how telepsychiatry can help provide behavioral health services and increase access for older adults in your community.

Tag Archives: Best Practices

Over the last several years, children in the U.S. have faced increased rates of mental health challenges and more barriers to the specialty care they need. Whether it’s long wait times, provider shortage constraints, or social determinants of health, getting care isn’t easy.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC),1 in 5 children have a mental, emotional, or behavioral disorder. Still, only about 20% receive care from a specialized mental health provider. This lack of access and increase in mental health challenges has been declared a national mental health emergency.

Thankfully, there are solutions in place to help increase access to mental health care for this population and help improve their experience in health systems and emergency departments across the country.

Best practices for providers treating children and adolescents

For families, seeking care for a mental health need can feel overwhelming. For children, it may feel like one of the hardest days of their lives. However, with the right support and best practices in places, providers and organizations can set children and families up for success.

Let’s take a look at a few approaches providers can take to create a more comfortable experience for children and their families:

  1. Acknowledge that the child is in crisis: Being in a psych unit can be daunting for anyone, and it’s especially stressful for children during an evaluation. That’s why acknowledging the feelings and emotions children and families may be experiencing is critical. By supporting them emotionally, you can help reassure them that their feelings are valid and create a more positive introduction to the health system.
  2. Work in conjunction with telepsychiatry providers: If your healthcare organization has partnered with a telepsychiatry solution, you have access to remote specialty providers with behavioral health expertise. This access to clinicians like psychiatrists, LCSWs, and PMHNPs, offers a great opportunity to collaborate and utilize their knowledge as a resource. Specialists can help guide the patient to the next level of care and offer valuable insights. By collaborating with other providers, your care team can enable comprehensive care and better health outcomes.
  3. Offer resources and support for families: Entering the mental health system for the first time can be scary, especially for children and families. Families may not know where to go or how to navigate the system. However, by leading with an empathetic approach and offering guidance, families may feel more comfortable with the process. By taking the time to hear them, see them, and direct them to the right resources, you can help children and families have a more positive experience.

Resources and training opportunities for providers

There are plenty of resources available for providers to learn more about best practices and sharpen their skills.

Here are a few resources and continuing education opportunities that can help set providers up to facilitate the best care possible to youth entering your health system:

  1. Medscape’s Child and Adolescent Psychiatry Learning Center: Medscape’s Child and Adolescent Psychiatry Learning Center offers several continuing education opportunities. Their learning center cover topics frequently encountered while treating children and adolescents in health systems, like youth suicide rates and risk, ADHD medication misuse, and mental health surveillance among children.
  2. The American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry (AACAP): The American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry is a non-profit organization that focuses on topics related to youth and adolescent psychiatric care. They offer clinically relevant, evidence-based pediatric resources for providers and can range from self-study courses, lectures from AACAP speakers, and tests.
  3. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP): The American Academy of Pediatrics is a professional organization made up of physicians who focus on child and adolescent health care. They offer an assortment of video series and telehealth resources that are designed to help providers care for children and adolescents with mental health concerns. For example, they have a video series about how to help adolescents feel in control during times of distress which can be applied in the emergency department.

Telepsychiatry can bridge gaps in mental health care

Telepsychiatry is a powerful tool that can help children get the care they need, when they need it. Telepsychiatry is especially essential for children and families living in rural areas given 70% of American counties do not have a child psychiatrist. Telepsychiatry has been a significant solution in getting children the mental health care they need, no matter their proximity to the necessary specialty care.

When families have a virtual visit as an option for care, they no longer need to travel long distances to get support for their child’s mental health needs. Telepsychiatry helps support continuity of care and gives families the flexibility to make it to their appointments. Parents don’t have to take off work, kids don’t have to miss school, and providers can work from the comfort of their own home, too.

For organizations, telepsychiatry helps increase the number of specialty providers available to their community. Additionally, it can also help give on-site providers an opportunity to lean on remote providers for their behavioral health expertise. This collaboration allows for high-quality care and better patient outcomes.

Where Iris Telehealth fits in

At Iris, we help ensure that children and families can get the high-quality, specialty care they need. That’s why we work hard to match healthcare organizations with the specialty providers they need to help their communities thrive – regardless of geographic barriers.

Contact us today if you would like to learn more about how telepsychiatry can help provide behavioral health services and increase access for children and adolescents in your community.

Tag Archives: Best Practices

In October 2021, the American Academy of Pediatrics, alongside the Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry and the Children’s Hospital Association, declared a national emergency in children’s mental health – citing the stress brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic and the ongoing fight for racial justice as key factors in the worsening mental health crisis.

These challenges have affected children across the board, and those in rural areas have been particularly affected. Given this population’s proximity to mental health resources and other unique barriers like transportation and economic hardship, getting behavioral health support isn’t always possible.

Thankfully, with the right solutions at play, healthcare organizations can help the youth in their communities access the right help at the right time – regardless of geographical barriers.

Common mental health challenges rural youth face

One of the first steps to helping rural youth is understanding their experiences. Rural communities face increased economic hardships and have fewer community resources available. Whether it’s medical or behavioral health care, there is a lack of options for individuals in rural communities.

Let’s take a closer look at a few of these barriers rural youth may face when seeking mental health care:

Less access to care: When fewer services are available, there’s a lack of opportunities for children to get help. If a child needs specialty care, their family may need to travel long distances. A commute to see a specialist may require time away from work and school – which may not be feasible for ongoing care.

Substance use challenges: Rural areas have experienced an uptick in substance use rates for youth and adults alike. When it comes to addressing these challenges in kids, it can be difficult to find the correct treatment. Additionally, caregivers who struggle with substance use may be unable to provide consistent care and support.

Mental health stigma: Stigma can prove even more challenging for those living in rural communities with limited access to mental health resources. This population deals with unique barriers regarding anonymity in their communities, health literacy, pervasive provider shortages, transportation challenges, and religious barriers.

While these challenges might feel daunting, there are several best practices that can help create increased opportunities for mental health care.

The role of telepsychiatry in rural America

Gaining access to specialty providers can prove challenging for healthcare organizations in rural America. However, that’s what makes telepsychiatry an essential best practice for reaching youth in these communities. Telepsychiatry connects organizations with a large pool of providers from all over the U.S. to help ensure they have the right behavioral health specialist to meet the needs of their communities. At Iris Telehealth, we call this process provider matching.

This approach helps organizations find the perfect provider fit to address their communities’ challenges effectively. Additionally, telepsychiatry allows children to connect to high-quality, specialty providers from the privacy of their homes. Virtual access to behavioral health care also enables this population to get help and maintain their anonymity at a community level.

The American Psychiatric Association (APA) calls telepsychiatry’s reach into rural and remote areas one of the best successes of telemedicine. The APA also cites that satisfaction has been superior for patients, families, and providers.

How healthcare organizations can support their communities

Reaching this community with high-quality care starts with implementing some best practices. Here are a few ideas your organization may consider to help support the mental health needs of your community:

Create a centralized location for care: When it comes to virtual care, ensuring patients have internet access is essential. For healthcare organizations in rural communities, that might look like creating a centralized place where patients can go for their appointments. In most clinical settings, a medical assistant will bring the patient into the room to ensure everything is ready to go for the appointment. This provider will confirm an internet connection and introduce the patient to the doctor.

Set expectations: When using telepsychiatry, setting expectations upfront is essential. This process may start with educating the patients about what they can expect during a telepsychiatry visit. For patients accessing their telehealth appointment from home, providers should let them know that all the rules for a confidential in-person health appointment apply to telepsychiatry. Providers can also check in with the patients and families about how they’re feeling about telehealth, ask what’s working, and let them know that it might take time to adjust to the platform.

Educate the community: Healthcare organizations can reach more kids by communicating with schools about what behavioral health support is available. This approach also connects healthcare organizations with school counselors who can make referrals.

Provide family support: The COVID-19 pandemic has been a prolonged trauma. Research from previous disasters and traumas show that a child’s ability to handle stress is directly related to their caregiver’s ability to handle anxiety. So, making sure that the child’s caregiver has support is a central component in helping a child’s mental health.

Amid a behavioral health crisis, there’s always a need for education around anxiety related to going back to school, the COVID-19 pandemic, gun violence, and anything else that may occur in the community. Thankfully, there are always outreach opportunities to educate families, provide support, and increase awareness of available community resources.

Where Iris Telehealth fits in

At Iris, we partner with communities in need of mental health resources. By providing rural populations access to specialty behavioral health providers from around the country, we can help support their needs. Contact us today if you would like to learn more about how telepsychiatry can support your community.

Tag Archives: Best Practices

Expanding your team with remote providers benefits your on-site clinicians, patients, and organization overall. Whether you’ve already got a hybrid of on-site and remote providers working for your organization or you’re adding new virtual clinicians to your team, there are several tips and tricks that can help you along the way.

Keep reading to learn more about the benefits, common challenges, and recommendations for providers and organizations to help effectively integrate telepsychiatry into your care team.

What does a truly integrated remote and on-site team look like?

When your clinician team is technically, culturally, and logistically well-integrated, your remote providers will feel and operate like an extension of your on-site team.

So, what does true integration look like exactly? Culturally, this integration can include participating in care team meetings, joining clinical medical leadership discussions, invitations to conferences, social or outside-of-work team events, and even fun gatherings like happy hours. This inclusion can help providers feel more comfortable by allowing them to spend time with other clinicians on their team.

The technical and logistical aspects of provider integration are also crucial in building long-term partnerships. That’s what makes a meet and greet so essential. This process can help ensure a good match between the providers and clinic staff before bringing them onboard.

The benefits of effectively incorporating telepsychiatry into your organization

When remote care teams are integrated and work together smoothly, on-site providers, organizations, and patients can all benefit.

Here’s how:

Collaboration of care: The initial patient evaluation, typically an hour long, is the most commonly missed by patients. With remote providers to lean on, your patients will never miss out on care because they can’t make it to an on-site appointment.

Addressing specialty mental health needs: The main advantage of having remote behavioral health providers on your clinical team is managing a broader spectrum of behavioral health care needs. Having on-site and remote providers gives patients more options and opportunities to get the care they need. Your organization can learn how to seamlessly address mental health care in your space through collaboration and coordination of care. Telepsychiatry helps elevate collaboration even further by making specialty providers with specific mental health expertise readily available for organizations, on-site providers, and patients.

Increase in patient comfort: Many remote providers appreciate seeing a patient in their home environment as it can inform care and make the patient feel more comfortable. For patients with anxiety who aren’t comfortable leaving their houses, telepsychiatry can be a particularly beneficial option. In fact, 85.52% of patients report that telemedicine has made getting the care they need easier.

Solving common integration challenges

So, what happens if a remote provider doesn’t appear to be a good match with the organization? It’s natural that there might be initial challenges when bringing new providers onto your care team. At Iris Telehealth, we help with common integrations and ongoing relationship challenges by facilitating and guiding the communication between provider and organization.

Our teams are invested when the clinician is introduced to an organization and stay engaged throughout a provider’s service. By advocating and mediating for both organizations and providers, we ensure the relationship, and ultimately patient care, remain high-quality.

Additionally, we get ahead of potential challenges by ensuring the clinical match is right the first time. We call this process “provider matching.” Provider matching can be a great way to combat these common integration challenges. Furthermore, working with an organization that delivers proven provider matching services is invaluable to seamless integration. However, if things aren’t going smoothly logistically or culturally, we’re still there to help. We’re looking for long-term matches that will meet your needs and match you with the perfect provider for your team.

Communication tips and recommendations

Naturally, as teams integrate, remote and on-site providers might experience growing pains and need to settle into new workflows. However, knowing a few tips and tricks can set your organization up for success. Here are four ways to embrace remote providers and help them feel like a part of the team:

  1. Clear communication: Communication is key for providers working in a remote setting. By figuring out how you’ll communicate with your remote colleague, you can provide the best care for your patients. Consider whether you’ll communicate through the EMR or video or audio-only calls. Additionally, knowing the frequency of communication can also help set expectations between providers.
  2. Be upfront with expectations: Be sure to communicate expectations upfront. That way, everyone will know their role when the time comes to provide the best care possible for their patients. The best way to ensure seamless integration is to prepare the operational conversations about bringing in a new provider. This operational conversation can be in the form of an interview or a meet and greet, where the provider and clinical team can discuss practice philosophies, scheduling preferences, and other essential logistics. Additionally, you can discuss what types of patients your organization sees, how patients are managed, avenues of care, and anything else you want your remote provider to be aware of. If you’re an organization new to telepsychiatry and unsure what to ask, that’s okay! At Iris, we facilitate these conversations and work to ensure the clinical match is a good fit.
  3. Regular meetings: You can facilitate team collaboration and integrated patient care by blocking time for meetings that include your remote provider. For example, some providers have meetings with their on-site teams where they can bounce ideas off each other and connect. Offering ways to collaborate outside of seeing patients is an excellent way for integrated teams to provide excellent care while getting to know each other.
  4. Don’t treat remote providers as contractors: Remote and on-site providers have the same goals and work on the same team. Remote providers tend to be happier and stay longer when they can connect with other providers and feel included in their organization.

How Iris Can Help

At Iris, we match you with providers who can integrate seamlessly into your care team technically, culturally, and logistically. With nearly a decade of experience, we share our best practices and expertise. Iris can help you fill gaps in your behavioral health services, whether it’s therapy services or various in-patient or outpatient psychiatric care. One of our core values is people over all else and our providers and partners are no exception. If you’d like to learn more, contact us today.

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 best practices for new EMR 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 and 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 that keeps them from care. That’s why having an effective consumer workflow is crucial.

Considerations for clinicians using the EMR remotely

While there’s much to consider on the organizational side, having an idea of what to expect on the provider side can also be beneficial for clinicians getting acquainted with a new EMR.

    • 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 apply to virtual care as well. 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 onto 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

Delivering quality, sustainable behavioral health care should be a priority for any healthcare organization. However, this goal isn’t always attainable due to resource restraints or the current provider shortage. That’s where telepsychiatry steps in to help facilitate access to high-quality behavioral health care and extend existing behavioral health programs to healthcare organizations across the country.

While navigating the fast-growing and rapidly evolving world of telepsychiatry, finding a partner you trust is essential. The right partner should work with you to support the long-term well-being of both your organization and your patients.

But, how do you find the right fit? Read on to learn all the questions you should ask to ensure you find the most effective and patient-focused telepsychiatry partner for your organization.

General questions to ask a telepsychiatry vendor

With so much growth in the world of telehealth, this basic information has never been more critical in the vendor selection process. By asking the following questions, you can help narrow in on partners who can offer your patients high-quality, long-term care.

Questions to consider:

  • How many dedicated employees does the organization have on staff? If possible, ask if you can see an organizational chart broken down by department, person, and title.
  • How many clinicians do they currently have on staff? How many are W2 employees versus 1099 contractors?
  • Does the company have experience licensing providers through IMLC and ENLC?
  • How many psychiatrists have applied to their organization in the last year?
  • Can they provide 5-6 references? How long have they been working with their current partners?
  • How many of their partner organizations provide similar services to the one your organization offers?

These questions can help you determine which vendor can provide the most compassionate care your patients deserve. For example, you can learn a lot about care quality and provider access by asking how many employees a vendor currently has on staff or whether or not their providers are 1099 contractors or W2 employees. Gathering these insights is key to finding the right fit for your organization.

Telepsychiatry and the importance of job matching

Finding the right provider fit is key to your patients’ well-being and your organization’s success. By working with a telepsychiatry vendor that delivers job matching services, you can find a provider who meets your organization’s needs and fills in care gaps. However, not every telepsychiatry vendor can make successful, long-term matches. That’s why it’s important to know what questions to ask.

Questions to Consider:

  • Does the company have a rigorous provider vetting process?
  • What type of providers does the company have available? PMHNPs? LCSWs? Specialist providers like child psychiatrists or bilingual providers?
  • Does the company get to know your organization’s needs, culture, and values?
  • Will the telepsychiatry provider offer a meet and greet to ensure you and the provider are on the same page?

Getting the answer to these questions is essential for selecting a telepsychiatry vendor. At Iris, we believe job matching is a necessary piece of the puzzle. That’s why we created the Iris Match. We take pride in this approach, and we think it’s a crucial piece of the puzzle. When matching a provider with an organization, we work to ensure the match is mutually beneficial. We guarantee that by the end of our match process, your care team and your patients will love.

Telepsychiatry’s approach to quality control and assurance

Ensuring your patients get the high-quality mental health care they deserve is essential. But, how do you ensure that your potential partner can meet this requirement? One option is to review their recognized third-party accreditations and look into other fundamental aspects of their business model and priorities.

Questions to Consider:

  • Is the company Joint Commission accredited for behavioral health?
  • Does the company have experience meeting HEDIS measures or other quality benchmarks?
  • Is the company a medical group that’s clinician-led and clinically driven?

Joint Commission accreditation enables an organization to credential more quickly and offers assurance that you, as a healthcare organization, will receive high-quality services. At Iris Telehealth, we’re proud to be led by clinicians and healthcare experts and the only telepsychiatry company to receive Joint Commission accreditation for behavioral health.

Questions to ask about telepsychiatry implementation

Implementing telepsychiatry and successfully integrating the services into your organization’s workflow requires focused time, effort, and care about your practice, providers, and patients. Getting specifics on their approach is crucial to getting your service up and running successfully.

Questions to Consider:

  • Is the vendor technology agnostic? Can they seamlessly integrate within your existing platforms?
  • Does the vendor develop custom workflows?
  • Will the vendor’s providers use your existing EMR for notes and documentation?

At Iris, we provide best-in-class support that ensures your organization is set up for long-term success. We work within your existing systems and workflows to ensure a seamless transition for your team. Additionally, we take care of tasks like licensing and credentialing to help relieve the burden on your teams. By making integration as seamless as possible, we help set your organization and your patients up for success.

Where Iris Telehealth fits in

Iris Telehealth is dedicated to improving patient outcomes with exceptional behavioral health care while decreasing the burden on your care team. Contact us today if you’d like to learn more about our approach to job matching, our in-depth expertise, or our best-in-class support.

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

If you’re looking to hire a telepsychiatry provider but don’t know where to begin, we’ve got you covered. At Iris Telehealth, we’ve learned how to identify the qualities that make (and don’t make) a great telepsychiatry provider.

Whether you’re optimizing your behavioral health program or bringing in someone to help with the growing demand for high-quality mental healthcare, there are key considerations and questions you should be asking.

Before you post the job description

Getting started requires a deep understanding of your existing clinical workflows and how a telepsychiatry provider will integrate into your clinical team. By identifying potential roadblocks, you’ll be better prepared for future issues that, inevitably, will arise.

Key questions to consider before starting the hiring process:

Location

  • Will your telepsychiatry provider be completely remote, or will they occasionally come on-site? Location is a key consideration as it can affect workflows, clinical organization, and recruiting efforts.

Integration

  • How will your existing clinic workflows develop to include a telepsychiatry provider?
  • How will the patient’s experience change?
  • How will your current staff’s roles and responsibilities change?

Communication

  • How will you ensure open communication between your telepsychiatry team and your existing care team?
  • Will your telepsychiatry provider join regular care team meetings?
  • Will you set up a daily/weekly huddle with your on-site team and your telepsychiatry provider?

Training

  • Will you provide training for everyone to learn telepsychiatry workflow?
  • Who will develop and deliver this training?

Taking the time to consider these questions will help you find the right provider for your organization.

What makes a great telepsychiatry provider?

It’s important to note that not every excellent doctor is a fantastic telepsychiatry provider. We’ve learned it takes a strong and unique skillset to make a superb telepsychiatry provider.

Here are six key components that make up a great telepsychiatry provider:

They believe in patient-centered care. This belief can be said for any provider, right? Regardless of medical specialty or whether they’re on-site or remote, it is imperative. This approach to care is one of the most critical factors to ensure patient satisfaction and high-quality care. That’s why it’s essential to take the time to identify providers who put their patients first – but you don’t have to do it alone. At Iris, we provide a thoughtful job matching process that ensures every organization is matched with a high-quality provider who shares their values.

A team mindset is central to their work. It’s easy for remote employees to feel like they are a “team of one,” so it’s vital to foster a sense of inclusion between remote providers and on-site teams. Providers with a team-focused mindset tend to integrate well into existing clinical care teams and feel like they are genuinely a part of the team, no matter the physical distance. We all know it takes a village to care for our communities, and the better we work together, the better the outcome for our patients.

They’re self-motivated. It’s much easier to be held accountable when you’re surrounded by colleagues than it is when you’re potentially 3,000 miles away from them. Telepsychiatry doctors need to be self-motivated go-getters who can hold themselves accountable in their work. When it comes to having remote employees, there’s a level of trust that needs to be reached. That’s why at Iris we ensure organizations are set up to succeed, matching them with thoroughly vetted providers who become an indispensable part of the team.

They’re tech-savvy or willing to learn how to be tech-savvy. Telepsychiatry providers do best when they have an intermediate level of comfort with technology (and we’re lucky enough to have an IT team available to our providers 24/7). You want the technology to fade into the background during the patient’s experience.

They have a willingness to ask for help. Our providers are incredibly knowledgeable, but they also know when to ask for help. We’ve found that this is an important quality as you scale your team and continue to improve your program. Providers who don’t know how or when to ask for help may find themselves overburdened or stuck with an issue for days, especially since they can’t just walk down the hall for support. Instead, those willing to ask for help will increase productivity, improve quality of care, and foster a sense of camaraderie with on-site teams.

Independence is a part of their success. Your telepsychiatry providers will be interacting with patients all day, but they need to be independent workers. They’ll likely be in a home office, and independence is essential for anyone working from home. Their independence will help them remain motivated, but it is also just a good quality for anyone who will be alone for much of their job.

If you find a provider who encapsulates these characteristics, you and your organization will surely be set up for success.

How we know what works

Iris Telehealth is a telepsychiatry organization made up of only the highest quality behavioral health providers. We partner with health systems and clinics nationwide to bring mental healthcare to the communities that need it most.

We employ more than 200 psychiatrists and psychiatric nurse practitioners who are truly integrated as part of our team. We have a comprehensive and rigorous vetting process, and our tried and true method has given us the opportunity to work with the best in the business. Our partners and their patients also report a 97% average patient satisfaction rate with our services. With over 1.5 million patient encounters, we’ve found that our patients can seamlessly build relationships with their providers, even in a virtual environment.

If you need help finding the perfect match for your organization, contact us today.

Tag Archives: Best Practices

Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, telehealth has become a mainstay for patients across the country. The American Telemedicine Association (ATA) reports the following data:

  • 28 studies found that more than 80% of patients indicated satisfaction with telehealth
  • 75% of people expect virtual care to become a standard part of their care
  • 85.52% report that telemedicine has made getting the care they need easier

With its growing popularity, it’s clear telehealth is a long-term solution and not just a temporary fix during the pandemic. As of 2017, the American Hospital Association cited 65% of hospitals had incorporated a telehealth solution. In 2021, about one-sixth of hospitals reported using telepsychiatry with a wide variation across states.

Still, healthcare organizations have a lot to consider when implementing virtual specialty solutions like telepsychiatry, and patient comfort should be a top priority. Keep reading to learn more about common telehealth misconceptions, why virtual works so well for psychiatry, and how to set patients and providers up for success in a virtual environment.

Common telehealth misconceptions

Despite the benefits and popularity of virtual care, misconceptions about the patient experience persist, and the telepsychiatry space is no different.

Here are four of the top misconceptions we encounter on a daily basis:

  1. Patients don’t want to use telehealth: This is perhaps one of the biggest myths busted by the pandemic. Across the board, patients want to conveniently and quickly see a provider across any specialty in the most convenient way possible — and for many, that means telepsychiatry. Additionally, while some organizations might be concerned about their patients thinking telehealth is low quality, there is no current data to support this notion. As the ATA study reports, patient satisfaction is high, and patients expect telehealth to continue being a possibility for their care well into the future.
  2. Elderly patients have trouble accessing technology: According to the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP), technology usage among older adults skyrocketed during the pandemic. The AARP reports that 44% of older adults view tech more positively as a way to stay connected than they did before COVID-19. Additionally, the American Psychiatric Association (APA) reports that since the late 1990s, telepsychiatry has been an effective treatment for anxiety, dementia, and cognitive impairment within this population.
  3. Populations with specialty concerns can’t get care: Many providers or organizations may think certain patients with specific concerns, like those experiencing paranoia, wouldn’t be interested in telepsychiatry. However, psychiatrists have seen that the ability to receive care from the comfort of their own homes has a more influential benefit for this population. Additionally, for deaf or hard-of-hearing patients, sharing the call with a sign-language interpreter has proven helpful and easy to manage virtually.
  4. Reaching rural communities will be difficult: While there may be concerns about getting this population on board with telepsychiatry, patients have seen real benefits over the past few years. In rural or small-town communities where access to care is limited, stigma around getting mental health treatment still exists, and not having to go to a psychiatrist’s office is a bonus for many people who may be wary of community backlash. Additionally, according to the Pew Research Center, 93% of American adults use the internet, diluting concerns that populations in rural America can’t access virtual care. Additionally, the ability to get care from home, so they don’t have to drive long distances, is a huge plus for this population.

Why virtual works for psychiatry

The virtual environment of telepsychiatry allows providers to meet patients where they are. This virtual platform is compatible with the nature of a psychiatrist’s work, and dates back as far as the 1950’s.

Additionally, for individuals with anxiety who aren’t comfortable leaving their houses, telepsychiatry is an excellent fit. The same goes for lower income populations, or patients experiencing homelessness. For these patients, getting transportation can stand as a barrier, and it can also be more difficult for them to want to go into a busy medical office.

The vast majority of work that goes into psychiatry is talking and listening, and telepsychiatry is the perfect fit for this line of work. Educating patients, providers, and organizational leadership about the benefits of telepsychiatry can help solidify this modality as a long-term solution for your organization.

Increasing patient comfortability at healthcare organizations

While most patients will be comfortable utilizing virtual care platforms, some may be hesitant. In this case, communication is vital. Ask your patients where else they’ve used this modality in their lives. If they’ve been able to communicate and connect with their loved ones, chances are, they’ll like telepsychiatry as well.

You can also ask them what they want directly. For example, do they want to come into the clinic? Or, do they want to connect from home? Maybe there will be some patients who are interested in a hybrid option. The data you collect can help guide your organization’s decision when considering investing in a telepsychiatry solution.

Tips for providers using telepsych

While telepsychiatry is beneficial to patients, it also benefits providers. In the ATA report cited above, 94% of mental health professionals say they would like to continue offering telehealth services. That said, making sure your providers have the information they need will set them up for success as they embark on their virtual practice.

At Iris Telehealth, we ensure our providers have all the resources, tools, and support they need to do what they do best — take care of patients. We’re psychiatrist-owned and operated, and we know what providers need, like less paperwork, a supportive work/life balance, and even 24/7 tech support.

Here are five tips our providers have found useful:

  1. Ensure a nice office set-up with a neutral background that’s not too distracting or too plain, like a blank white wall
  2. To prevent headaches, encourage providers to be aware of any glare on their glasses or their computer screen
  3. Investing in a noise-canceling microphone can help providers keep communication clear and cut back on distractions
  4. To help ensure patient privacy, ask your providers to invest in a headset to ensure they’re the only ones who can hear what the patient is saying
  5. Ensuring your provider’s cameras are set to a good gaze angle can help promote connection. When a provider’s camera is pointed down and they’re looking up (or if the camera is on a different monitor than the screen they’re looking at), it can look like they’re staring off into a different direction — providers should seek to position their cameras in a way that makes it appear as though they’re looking directly at their patient

By incorporating these tips, your providers will be set up for successful patient sessions that will make patients more comfortable with any virtual communications.

Get started on your behavioral health strategy

Here at Iris, we make sure your organization has everything it needs for a successful behavioral health program.

Contact us today to see if our telepsychiatry services would be a good match for your organization. Or, if you have more questions, check out our FAQ page.

Tag Archives: Best Practices

As more and more states become eligible for Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinic (CCBHC) certification and funding, many healthcare organizations are considering becoming CCBHCs. And, as opportunities continue to expand for CCBHCs, it’s in your organization’s best interest to consider whether getting certified makes sense for you. The certification process can be labor-intensive but is often worth the effort for the sake of your organization and patients.

In this piece, we’ll discuss the requirements for, challenges to, and benefits of becoming a CCHBC.

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 — allowing 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,” which requires them to serve anyone needing care while partnering with local primary care facilities and hospitals and integrating 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

CCBHCs can provide these comprehensive services by the additional funding they receive, allowing them to serve everyone without any limitations on geographic location or ability to pay.

How do logistics for CCBHCs differ from other mental health providers?

You’ll notice shorter wait times at CCBHCs than 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 to become a CCBHC?

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

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

What are the pros and cons of being a CCBHC, and what does the certification process entail?

Of course, there are pros and cons to certification. Benefits of certification include the fact that your organization is held to a higher standard and thus provides 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 becoming a CCBHC 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, 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 certification 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 other healthcare organizations — within your state and across the country — have gone through this process can be valuable resources.