Telepsychiatry Companies

Tag Archives: Telepsychiatry Resources

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

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

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

Overview of new CMS rules

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Core benefits of the new CMS rules

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

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

How Iris Can Help

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

Tag Archives: Telepsychiatry Resources

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

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

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

State of telepsychiatry

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

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

Patient satisfaction by the numbers

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

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

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

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

Telepsychiatry reaches those who need care most

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

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

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

How telepsychiatry boosts patient satisfaction in the ED

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

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

How Iris can help

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

Tag Archives: Telepsychiatry Resources

As the healthcare industry evolves, one thing is certain: telehealth is here to stay. In fact, we believe that telepsychiatry is revolutionizing the way healthcare organizations approach behavioral health.

Below we share five ways telepsychiatry is shaping the future of behavioral healthcare and how your organization and patients can benefit.

1. Telepsychiatry equalizes behavioral healthcare access nationwide

Telepsychiatry is far from new. Before the COVID-19 pandemic, Iris Telehealth worked with healthcare organizations to leverage telepsychiatry to provide quality behavioral health care.

However, due to federal and state-wide telehealth restrictions, many patients were cut off from quality care due to their geographical location.

In fact, a 2018 Pew Research Center survey found that 25% of rural residents travel approximately 34 minutes to get to the nearest hospital. The Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) also reports that 150 million people live in mental health professional shortage areas. To make matters worse, many rural hospitals suffer from these shortages, and the AAMC says the country will be short between 14,280 and 31,109 psychiatrists, psychologists, and social workers in a few years.

However, after COVID-19 started impacting communities across the country, telehealth restrictions loosened, and suddenly millions of patients had the option to meet with their healthcare providers via a smartphone or another digital device. And, this level of access has continued.

Patients in both urban and rural locations can use telepsychiatry to access psychiatric services faster and get the care they need. They can also overcome financial constraints to psychiatric care, such as having to miss work or arrange childcare to travel to a psychiatrist’s office.

2. Telehealth increases medication adherence and follow-up visits

Mental health patients are often subject to being labeled with terms, such as “noncompliant,” “difficult,” and “frequent flyer.” But underneath these stigmas lies a stark truth: many of these patients are facing evidence-based barriers that prevent them from continuing their psychiatric care.

These barriers include:

    • Socioeconomic obstacles (e.g., poverty, lack of insurance coverage)
    • Feelings of guilt and shame
    • Misunderstandings around their mental health condition
    • Mistrust toward healthcare providers

Comprehensive patient support is vital to eliminating these hurdles. This support includes extensive education, accurate diagnosis, and targeted treatment from compassionate psychiatric providers – including through telehealth.

Through telepsychiatry, healthcare organizations can drive patient engagement while helping patients overcome stigmas, attend follow-up appointments, and strengthen medication adherence.

In fact, according to a recent 2022 Health Care Insights Study conducted by CVS Health, researchers found that over half of consumers say the availability of virtual mental health services would increase their chances of seeking care.

3. Telepsychiatry enhances patient-provider flexibility

For both patients and providers, long wait times are often a significant burden in behavioral healthcare. Telepsychiatry can help solve these issues by decreasing the time it takes for mental health patients to see a psychiatric provider.

Rather than waiting hours for an in-person visit, patients can speak with a telepsychiatry provider in minutes. Telepsychiatry meets patients wherever they are — whether in their home or another remote location. In addition, patients can receive information about their care (from the telepsychiatry provider) via text message or email.

This flexibility delivers greater patient satisfaction and wellbeing —all while lightning staff workflows and allowing healthcare organizations to grow their cost savings.

4. Telepsychiatry boosts collaboration among stakeholders

Innovations like artificial intelligence and telepsychiatry have given new meaning to collaboration. For example, in telepsychiatry, we can use the patient data — obtained from digital forms and other health tools — to guide psychiatric care and communicate more precise, targeted insights to the healthcare team.

We’ve also seen stronger collaboration among legislators in the form of bipartisan telehealth policies designed to address real patient concerns, including mental health care. This leads us to believe that telepsychiatry will continue to add significant value to providers and patients long after the pandemic.

However, there’s still a lot of work to be done. For starters, there are only hints of what telehealth reimbursement will look like going forward. Therefore, it’s important for healthcare organizations to stay on top of federal, state, and FDA developments. This focus will ensure your organization makes well-informed decisions when it comes to psychiatric patient care and support.

5. Telepsychiatry aids in the shift to value-based care

The healthcare industry is increasingly leaning towards value-based care — most notably, population health. This shift means the traditional fee-for-service model is slowly disappearing, thereby motivating healthcare organizations to remove silos and take a more holistic approach to patient care.

It can be challenging to understand all the different aspects of population health, let alone develop cost-effective strategies to implement it. That’s why it’s crucial to partner with vendors that can help your organization achieve sustainable population-health success.

For example, partnering with a technology-neutral provider like Iris Telehealth saves you from having to invest in a special software platform, electronic medical record (EMR), or equipment. By partnering with a technology-neutral vendor, qualified psychiatrists and psychiatric nurse practitioners will utilize your organization’s existing EMR and equipment.

That means an easier transition to a long-term telepsychiatry program, cost savings, more satisfied staff, and most importantly, better mental and population health outcomes.

The bottom line

Telepsychiatry has become the new normal and will continue to impact the behavioral health space in big ways. Whether it’s opening up access to quality care or helping EDs meet high patient demand, there’s no doubt that telepsychiatry has created a brighter future for behavioral health care.

People are leaning on telehealth as a tool to help them meet their mental health needs and the data speaks for itself:

      • 93% of providers believe virtual visits increased the chances of patients keeping their appointments
      • 71% of consumers believe virtual mental health services would be more convenient
      • 57% of providers believe access to mental health professionals would be very helpful to their patient population

If you’re looking for highly qualified, compassionate psychiatrists and psychiatric mental health nurse practitioners, Iris Telehealth can help. Contact us for more information about starting a telepsychiatry program that can improve your organization’s behavioral health outcomes.

Tag Archives: Telepsychiatry Resources

America’s provider shortage continues to grow, and people across the country are feeling the strain. Between the greater demand for treatment, limited residency spots, and a decrease in stigma around mental health treatment, there’s a clear need for effective patient care and more providers. By the numbers, the behavioral health provider shortage impacts 129 million Americans, with over three-quarters of U.S. counties experiencing a severe lack of mental health prescribers or non-prescribers.

Thankfully, telepsychiatry can help healthcare organizations across the country keep up with the growing demand for mental health care. Keep reading to learn how telepsychiatry can help your organization combat the provider shortage and provide your community with the high-quality care it needs.

Understanding the provider and patient experience

Today, many providers are experiencing high levels of burnout nd loss of job satisfaction. For organizations, burnout means decreased continuity of care for their patients and more barriers to hiring quality providers. For patients, this shortage of psychiatrists equates to waiting lists and considerable time spent sitting in the emergency department (ED) waiting for help.

Let’s take a look at what each of these experiences looks like up close:

    • Providers: Provider burnout is a significant issue, affecting 78% of psychiatrists. Contributing factors to burnout may include work environment, compassion fatigue, and struggle to achieve work-life balance. At Iris Telehealth, we remove barriers like paperwork, credentialing, and licensing. That way, they can have the time, flexibility, and support to care for themselves and their patients. And when providers are healthy and happy, their patients get the high-quality care they need.
    • Patients: Patients are critically impacted by psychiatry shortages. For patients, getting care when and where they need it is crucial, and long waits can cause them to go into crisis. In fact, long wait times have led to crises in emergency departments across the U.S. With a lack of beds and providers to meet patient needs, people are spending extensive amounts of time waiting for treatment.

Telepsychiatry can help patients get the care they need when they need it. In the community space, telepsychiatry can connect patients with high-quality, experienced providers who can help them get the right care, including medication recommendations and therapy. For organizations seeking providers who can care for the needs of specific populations, this help is crucial. Telepsychiatry allows organizations to recruit top-quality providers from a wider geographic pool.

The benefits of telepsychiatry and collaborative care

There are several steps healthcare organizations can take to help compensate for the lack of providers, including implementing telepsychiatry and investing in collaborative care. Telepsychiatry delivers quality, sustainable behavioral health care to healthcare organizations while also providing best-in-class support and expertise.

Organizations are also leaning into collaborative care. In fact, federally qualified health centers (FQHCs) and primary care clinics are expanding their mental health offerings – investing in LCSWs, therapists, psychiatrists, and PMHNPs to embrace this model. Collaborative care is elevated by telepsychiatry and makes specialty care more accessible. Providing this level of access to those in rural areas, where finding providers can be particularly challenging, is especially important.

Telepsychiatry simplifies this process by integrating into multiple locations with one set of staff. For instance, you might have one primary care provider in an eight-county rural area. Instead of finding eight providers to go into each clinic, having one who can plug into several locations is highly beneficial.

Three key ways telepsychiatry is indispensable during shortages

Telepsychiatry is a powerful tool that connects patients with high-quality care and helps organizations expand their behavioral health programs while supporting their on-site teams. Because of these benefits, telepsychiatry has become indispensable during provider shortages.

Let’s look at three other reasons telepsychiatry stands out as a solution during the provider shortage:

    1. Telepsychiatry has an expansive reach: Telepsychiatry connects organizations with high-quality, specialty providers they wouldn’t otherwise be able to access. If an organization in rural America needs a provider who practices within a particular specialty, they can virtually bring them into their clinic or hospital and provide valuable care to underserved populations.
    2. Telepsychiatry can reduce provider burnout: Telepsychiatry is especially beneficial to providers as it cuts the commute out of their day, gives them more time and flexibility, and combats compassion fatigue. It also allows for more self-care time, lets them work with a population they wouldn’t otherwise be able to reach, and ultimately helps increase work satisfaction.
    3. Patients get the care they need when they need it: Telepsychiatry connects patients to specialty care and helps organizations avoid care gaps. It also provides the long-term sustainability patients and providers need to build relationships.

Where Iris Telehealth fits in

At Iris, we are dedicated to improving patient outcomes with exceptional behavioral health care. We match your organization with the best behavioral health providers for your community, provide the behavioral health expertise you need to optimize your program, and deliver best-in-class support to make telepsychiatry a seamless, long-term solution for your healthcare organization and your patients.

Contact us today if you’d like to implement a telepsychiatry solution into your organization.

Tag Archives: Telepsychiatry Resources

Mental health care is inaccessible to many, whether it’s due to transportation barriers, economic opportunity, or obstacles related to race or stigma – getting treatment isn’t always easy.

For healthcare organizations, barriers like these highlight the importance of providing high-quality and accessible care to communities across the country. But, what does genuinely accessible care look like? Truly accessible care meets people where they are, with the right care, at the right time – without concern for location, schedule, or socioeconomic class.

Telepsychiatry meets this demand head-on, creating a bridge between people and the care gaps they encounter when seeking mental health care. Read on to learn more about specific barriers people are facing, how telepsychiatry solves these challenges, and how healthcare organizations can benefit from embracing a truly accessible behavioral health approach.

Addressing language barriers with telepsychiatry

For many patients, deciding to seek mental health treatment is a big decision, and many factors might deter them from getting that help.

The American Psychiatric Association (APA) cites several barriers to care for Hispanic and Latino populations in the U.S., including:

  • Language barriers
  • Lack of culturally tailored services
  • Lack of culturally competent mental professionals
  • Shortage of bilingual or linguistically trained mental health professionals

The APA also reports that only one in 20 Hispanics with a mental disorder receive mental health services from a specialist. For patients who speak another language, having a provider who understands their culture and language can help them feel less hesitant about seeking care. However, only 6% of mental health providers in the U.S. are Hispanic, and only 5.5% provide services in Spanish.

Thankfully, telepsychiatry can help bridge this gap. At Iris Telehealth, we draw from a large provider pool, and our patients can connect with providers outside of their geographic area who may speak their same language or have experience with their culture. This connection is highly beneficial to individuals who may not have a provider they can connect with locally.

However, if no providers are available, interpreters can also help patients communicate during their visit. Interpreters work for telepsychiatry the same way they would during an in-person visit. It just requires some organizational efforts on the clinical side and reassurance to the patient that the support is available. If the facility doesn’t have an in-person interpreter, they can join the virtual call. Whether a patient connects directly with a provider who speaks their language or works with an interpreter, telepsychiatry breaks down barriers to help them get the care they need and deserve.

Reaching people where they are with telepsychiatry

For people in rural areas, getting the mental health care they need can seem next to impossible. Rural Americans face several barriers, including the expense of taking time away from work, coordinating with their child’s school or daycare schedules, and the lack of mental health providers in their geographic region. And, even if there are providers close by, there’s typically an extensive waiting list to get care.

Along with these barriers, transportation is a real issue for people in these communities. In an American Hospital Association (AHA) report, 3.6 million people cannot access medical care due to a lack of transportation, and figuring out a way to help individuals get to and from their appointments is crucial to their health.

Despite these barriers, telepsychiatry can free up schedules, help with the expense of driving, and make it possible for someone in remote parts of the country to get the psychiatric care they need. Telepsychiatry serves as a creative avenue for support, allowing people to connect to a high-quality, specialty mental health provider from the privacy of their homes and enabling them to maintain their anonymity at a community level.

Telepsychiatry connects patients with specialty care

The COVID-19 pandemic has been tremendously difficult on families. From schools opening and closing to wearing masks to children losing caregivers – families have been through many changes. Through it all, people have been doing their best to find support.

Families, or anyone deciding to get help, may find themselves overwhelmed by the complicated system or the lack of available providers. Many patients will call a long list of providers to find out they’re calling the wrong type of provider once they have a conversation and realize they need a particular specialist, like a child psychiatrist.

Telepsychiatry helps healthcare organizations connect these patients with the right specialty providers. This level of access is incredibly beneficial to patients.

Overcoming technology barriers with telepsychiatry

Technology may be a barrier for some individuals who aren’t comfortable with virtual platforms. However, there are many steps organizations can take to help make technology more accessible to their patients, whatever the comfort level.

Here are a few steps providers can take to help increase patient comfort with technology:

  • Establish a rapport and provide education about what the experience will look like
  • Let patients know there is a backup plan if the technology fails
  • Reassure them that their appointment will not be lost if they’re disconnected
  • Remind the patient that they have support so they don’t feel overwhelmed

Taking these steps can help ensure technology doesn’t create a barrier or present itself as a barrier to seeking care.

By partnering with a telepsychiatry vendor that seamlessly integrates into your systems, patients in the community can access providers from across the country at their local clinic, regardless of what personal access they may have at home. Telepsychiatry creates an easy experience that meets people where they are with compassionate providers ready to provide support.

The importance of provider fit for healthcare organizations

With an increased rate of anxiety, depression, and substance use disorder in communities across the U.S., increasing accessibility to specialty care has never been more critical. Healthcare organizations understand this need well, whether they’ve experienced barriers around the provider shortage or have had difficulty finding the right telepsychiatry provider.

At Iris, we work hard to understand your organization’s needs and find the right provider match for your population. This job-matching approach helps organizations find a provider who will be with them for the long term and establish a relationship with the same level of engagement as if they were on the ground.

Where Iris Telehealth fits in

Iris Telehealth works with healthcare organizations across the country to bring high-quality, specialty psychiatry services to people who need them most. If you’re a healthcare organization looking to increase access in your community, Iris Telehealth can work with you to seamlessly integrate behavioral health services. Contact us today.

Tag Archives: Telepsychiatry Resources

There’s a lot to consider when implementing telepsychiatry into your health system, but first, let’s explore what telepsychiatry really is.

Telepsychiatry delivers psychiatric assessment and care via telecommunications technology, typically video conferencing. This solution equips health systems across the nation with the tools to provide high-quality, accessible, and affordable mental healthcare to their patients. This approach has never been more critical as the demand for mental healthcare in the United States grows.

Telepsychiatry is transforming the way care is delivered. This solution allows hospitals and clinics in rural and underserved areas to recruit excellent providers and improve patient care while reducing and maintaining costs. So, where do healthcare organizations begin? It starts by asking three simple questions.

1. Why telepsychiatry?

Before you begin, determine why you need a telepsychiatry solution. Are you looking to add, maintain or grow psychiatric services? This answer will help you navigate to the right solution. A few things to consider:

  • Do you have psychiatrists but need a few more people to help with the patient load?
  • Is your health clinic located in a remote area where it’s hard to recruit or retain doctors?

Knowing whether your organization will use telepsychiatry to supplement in-person care or as the main vehicle to care is critical to determining your plan moving forward.

Next, determine which method will work best for your setting.

1. Are you planning to supplement current on-site psychiatric providers with a telepsychiatry provider? If so, you’ll need to determine how their workflows will mirror each other. You will also need to develop best practices for your care team’s communication.

2. Are you planning to exclusively use telepsychiatry in your organization? If so, then your on-site staff will need to be prepared to make small changes to the current workflow in order to integrate the remote provider and ensure your program is successful.

We have seen both approaches work successfully in various settings. Knowing which one you plan to use ahead of time is crucial.

2. What technology will you use to deliver telepsychiatry?

Take an assessment of any existing hardware and software that you can use for your telepsychiatry program. Regardless of your starting point, it doesn’t need to be complicated or require a significant up-front investment. Often, people already have equipment that can be repurposed for telepsychiatry, which often reduces the early fees of getting started. As far as software goes, telepsychiatrists will typically document into your existing EMR and use simple video conferencing platforms, like Skype for Business.

Even if you don’t have much equipment – or any equipment at all – startup fees are typically minimal. All you really need is a laptop with a high-quality camera and microphone, but knowing what you already have, and what you need, helps get the ball rolling.

3. How will you build your telepsychiatry program?

Once you’ve determined the “why” behind investing in telepsychiatry and have taken a scan of existing equipment that will help get you started, it’s time to figure out how you will build out your telepsychiatry program.

Key considerations

  • Will you keep your telepsychiatry program in-house?
  • Will you work with a telepsychiatry provider vendor?
  • Will you partner with a telepsychiatry provider services organization?
  • Do you have the know-how, equipment, and people to start a telepsychiatry department on your own?
  • Would you like the support, expertise, and assistance of an experienced telepsychiatry provider partner?

Many groups have the resources and infrastructure to start in-house telepsychiatry on their own. For other organizations, that’s simply not a desire, or even a reality. Picking a partner you can trust is essential. After all, they will be working with your patients and your staff. You want a partner that is a leading industry expert with the experience to be a true consultant, working alongside you every step of the way to develop and deliver a custom telepsychiatry solution.

Iris Telehealth has helped countless healthcare organizations across the country deliver high-quality, specialty care to their patients. If you’d like to learn more about how Iris can help implement a telepsychiatry solution at your organization, you can talk to an expert today.

Tag Archives: Telepsychiatry Resources

Integrated care acknowledges that mental health and physical health don’t exist in silos and makes high-quality care a reality for patients across the country. What initially began as co-location, a model that puts behavioral health and primary care providers in the same building, but not on the same team, has evolved into a collaborative approach that improves patient outcomes.

This convergence of medical and behavioral health facilitates true collaboration between providers, offers patients the best possible care, and mitigates downstream medical costs. Telepsychiatry helps elevate collaboration even further by making specialty expertise readily available for organizations and their providers.

Read on to learn more about this innovative approach to care and all the benefits it offers organizations and patients across the country.

The importance of integrated care

The overlap between medical and behavioral conditions is part of what makes integrated care so essential. According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), chronic illnesses such as cancer, heart disease, and diabetes can make someone more susceptible to developing a mental health condition. Likewise, depression can increase the risk of many physical health problems such as heart disease and stroke.

Other co-occurring conditions include:

  • Diabetes: People with diabetes are two to three times more likely to experience depression, and only 25%-50% of people with diabetes and depression get diagnosed and treated
  • COPD: Around 40% of people with COPD are affected by severe depressive symptoms or clinical depression
  • Inflammation: Higher rates of inflammation can put those with a history of heart attacks at increased risk of depression

The mind and body connection plays a significant role in our everyday lives and makes provider collaboration crucial to a holistic approach to patient care.

The benefits of an integrated care model

According to the American Psychiatric Association, the collaborative care model can effectively control costs, improve access and clinical outcomes, and increase patient satisfaction in various primary care settings, including rural and urban communities. There are also impactful benefits for patients and providers.

For patients

Convenience is king. When all providers are under one roof, it supercharges the patient experience and eliminates the chance of duplicate procedures, labs, and diagnostics. With integrated care, patients don’t have to worry about requesting records or keeping them on hand because their providers already have them.

For providers

The integrated care model also saves providers time and money. With the collaborative model, primary care and behavioral health are integrated into the same facility, and their records access is optimized. Shared insights into medical records reduce the risk of medication interactions, allowing providers to see patient prescriptions at the primary care or behavioral health level.

Additionally, the American Psychological Association cites improved patient outcomes, cost savings, and reduced mental health stigma as additional benefits of the integrated care model.

Getting your integrated care program started

As with implementing any new process, there may be initial start-up challenges. For example, unless teams are already using the same medical record system, training may need to be implemented to ensure everyone knows how to use the system properly.

It can be easy for teams to revert to a co-location model. Change is challenging and can create hesitation around learning a new medical record system or moving beyond simply referring someone down the hall for a primary care check-up.

The integrated care model takes things a step further, circles back and asks, “How did that go?” “What kind of follow-up do I need to do on that referral?” This model facilitates a more comprehensive level of care that provides more convenience, is cost-effective, and offers a higher level of healthcare for patients and providers.

The value of this model can’t be overstated, and despite initial challenges, it’s essential for teams to keep moving forward. With an integrated care model, everyone benefits in the long run.

Achieving cross-functional buy-in for your program

The integrated care model makes tedious processes like tracking down records and labs seamless. It also helps assure providers that their patients are getting holistic treatment for any co-occurring conditions. For example, suppose a patient with diabetes is prescribed an antipsychotic. It’s helpful for the provider to know that their patient is getting high-quality treatment for their diabetes. For these reasons and more, providers typically feel enthusiastic about the new model. However, it’s essential to share those benefits with the rest of the staff and patients.

Walking the team through the process and any new steps is crucial to a successful transition. Ensuring your staff is well-informed of changes, why you’re doing them, and the potential snares can help everyone feel more comfortable.

It’s also important to get buy-in from nurses and staff. Placing these team members on the committee leading the charge towards integrated care can make a big difference in the organization’s adaptability.

How organizations are embracing integrated care

Integrated health is the future of funding. It’s one of the direct outcomes of the Medicaid 1115 waivers, it’s a primary outcome for certified community behavioral health centers (CCBHC), and it’s going to be something that insurance payers, Medicare, and Medicaid will require. The fact of the matter is, integrated care isn’t going to be optional at a certain point.

Healthcare organizations want the best for their patients, and offering the full spectrum of care helps them achieve this goal.

Where telepsychiatry fits in

Telepsychiatry elevates the integrated care model and makes specialty care more accessible. This virtual approach to psychiatry is crucial as the country experiences a growing provider shortage. As a 2017 report by the National Council for Behavioral Health revealed, the U.S. may be short by 6,090 to 15,600 psychiatrists by 2025. This shortage makes having a behavioral health provider available even more essential for on-site medical teams.

Having easy access to specialists is especially important in rural areas where finding providers can be particularly challenging. Telepsychiatry simplifies this process by integrating into multiple locations with one set of staff. For instance, you might have one primary care provider in an eight-county rural area. Instead of finding eight providers to go into each clinic, having one who can be plugged into several different centers is highly beneficial.

The future of integrated care

As of 2017, the American Hospital Association (AHA) reports health systems across the U.S. are utilizing some form of integration in the following areas:

  • 51% emergency services
  • 38% primary care services
  • 46% acute inpatient services
  • 17% extended care

This integrated model is quickly becoming the benchmark for high-quality care. As more health systems move away from siloed treatment and towards holistic, person-centered care, the more significant the benefits.

How Iris Telehealth can help

Iris Telehealth envisions a better world through healthy minds, and we’re continually expanding our psychiatry services to those who need it most. If your organization is interested in implementing a telepsychiatry program that can seamlessly integrate into your healthcare organization, Iris can help. Contact us today.

Tag Archives: Telepsychiatry Resources

Telepsychiatry has evened the playing field for people in need of mental health help by providing psychiatric services, most often through video conferencing. This allows patients, no matter their location, to receive high-quality psychiatric care. The great thing about telepsych is that conducting an appointment virtually does not impact the quality of care received. There are very few differences between getting psychiatric care virtually and psychiatric care on-site.

With the COVID-19 pandemic and the U.S.’s ongoing shortage of psychiatrists, offering telepsychiatry services just isn’t going to be optional anymore. It’s now necessary that organizations and providers be able to treat patients virtually when on-site care isn’t possible.

Fortunately, the nationwide shift to telemedicine early in the pandemic has proven that there’s little to no difference between the quality of virtual psychiatric care and on-site psychiatric care. Telepsychiatry has made psychiatric services more accessible, affordable, and convenient than ever — for patients, providers, and healthcare organizations alike.

For organizations still debating whether to invest in virtual psychiatric care vs. on-site psychiatric care for their long-term care strategies, this piece will address four common questions you may have:

1. Is the length of treatment different for a virtual appointment?

There’s a huge misconception that there’s a difference in the level of care between a virtual psychiatric appointment and an on-site appointment. The truth is, a virtual appointment runs much the same way an on-site appointment does. There’s no difference in the length of treatment, the type of care, or how the provider conducts the appointment.

Just like in an on-site appointment, the patient will be connected directly with their provider (either in a healthcare organization or in their own home) for a private, confidential session. The provider will then conduct an in-depth evaluation and work with the patient towards a diagnosis and treatment plan that is specific to their needs. If patients require medication, a virtual psychiatrist can prescribe that as well — often through your organization’s existing system. Additionally, follow-up care will be set up as needed.

However, while the approach to care can be similar, the biggest advantage of using a telepsychiatry provider is expanding access to quality psychiatric treatment for people in rural and underserved areas.

2. Can a patient’s mental health condition impact the level of care they receive?

In almost all cases, patients can receive care virtually just as they would be on-site. However, sometimes the decision comes down to personal preference and availability. In some rare cases, a virtual appointment would not be ideal for patients who are in mechanical restraints, not willing to consent to receive mental health treatment virtually, or not able to conduct an appointment in a safe, private environment wherever they are located. In these scenarios, on-site treatment (if possible) is recommended.

Other than these few exceptions, a patient’s particular mental health condition does not impact their ability to receive adequate care virtually. At Iris Telehealth, we work with providers to ensure patients are safe, comfortable, and experience the highest level of care possible.

3. Do virtual and on-site psychiatric appointments have the same level of effectiveness for children and adults?

There is no major difference in patient outcomes or patient satisfaction for virtual care vs. on-site care. In a study published by The American Journal of Managed Care, 62.6% of patients and 59% of clinicians cited they did not see a difference in quality in a virtual visit compared to an on-site visit with most patients preferring virtual psychiatric visits. With the onset of the pandemic, adults and children have both been struggling to maintain their mental health while being isolated and dealing with day-to-day life. When an on-site appointment is not feasible, children and adults can seek psychiatric help virtually to get their mental health back on track.

4. What are the top concerns providers have with virtual appointments vs. on-site appointments?

Some providers have to overcome patient concerns around telepsychiatry because they’re worried about being recorded during their sessions. During the session, the provider will never record patients without telling them, and they must ensure they receive patient consent before conducting any appointments. Just like at an on-site appointment, providers will review everything patients need to know before the appointment and ensure they understand how everything will flow.

Providers also have to work through using technology to speak with their patients who may not be tech-savvy. When providers partner with Iris Telehealth or another telehealth vendor, they will be properly trained, educated, and given adequate support to address patient concerns and work through any technology fears patients may have.

Another concern providers have is whether they will have the same connection with their patients virtually as they would on-site. Most providers and patients find this answer to be a resounding yes! According to a study performed by APA, 82 percent of people tried virtual care due to the pandemic, and about half had a positive response to it. Fifty-nine percent say they would use it for a mental health concern in the future — and most patients who take advantage of virtual care report positive experiences and satisfaction.

How Iris Telehealth can help

Whether your organization chooses to implement virtual psychiatric care or on-site care, you can rest assured patients will receive the same level of care and treatment with both options. One is not inherently better than the other. However, telehealth makes mental health help available to more people across the U.S. and breaks down barriers to receiving help.

If you would like more information on how to implement telepsychiatry into your organization — or how it can help you meet the mental health needs of your community — contact us today.

Tag Archives: Telepsychiatry Resources

The way we talk about mental health has changed during the pandemic. Over the past year, COVID-19 and the subsequent mental health crisis have helped decrease the stigma around discussing mental health and have increased awareness of the vast need across the country for access to quality care. And, with the emergency telehealth protocols, we’ve seen an improvement in access to care across the country.

However, we also know because of the pandemic, there’s a higher need for care across patient populations, which will likely persist for years to come.

So what does that mean for the future of mental health care?

We need to keep breaking down barriers to high-quality care

Some of the barriers, thankfully, have been eliminated during the COVID-19 emergency protocols:

  • Insurance payers are reimbursing for virtual care where they weren’t in the past, which signals an improvement in the types of visits that are covered and what’s considered “mental health care.”
  • The philosophy of what is the point of care has been stretched and become more creative so we are providing continuity of care.
  • The stigma around mental health care is improving because of our shared challenge and experiences during the pandemic.

Now, we’re starting to see more and more states make their temporary protocols permanent, which will help behavioral health organizations better incorporate telehealth into their long-term strategies and continue to increase access to mental health services.

On top of these policy changes, I hope that, moving forward, more people will see the incredible need for mental health care and hopefully go into the field. Because, one of our biggest, persistent barriers to care is our ongoing psychiatrist shortage.

Embrace hybrid-models of care as the key to future success

Throughout most of the pandemic, folks have relied on virtual resources to help them connect with friends, loved-ones, and co-workers. But, long-term, exclusively virtual contact can still feel isolating for many people.

As things are starting to open back up, many people are longing for those in-person interactions, which is completely understandable. As a result, many healthcare organizations who pivoted quickly towards telehealth when the pandemic started may wonder how best to move forward.

It’s important to note that there won’t be a sudden change back to the way things were. The transition will be very gradual, and will likely result in a hybrid care model where both in-person and virtual appointments are available.

There will certainly be circumstances where providers want to see clients in person. But, over the past year, we’ve learned that telemedicine can be a fantastic option for certain kinds of care — particularly in the behavioral health space.

As people are slowly getting back to the new normal, there are still unknowns. People will have understandable anxieties about exposures, and there will be a subset of patients who will prefer to continue virtual care. So, a combined approach where organizations and providers offer different kinds of care will be important.

Patient challenges and demographics might be different moving forward

The pandemic has uprooted families for well over a year. Across the board, we’ve seen an increased need for caretaking within the home. With school closures, the shift to virtual learning, and parents figuring out how to care for their children while still maintaining their careers, there’s been a substantial impact on families and family life. Now we’re understanding how this long-term trauma is affecting kids, and what the school closures have meant in terms of social and emotional learning for these children.

As schools open back up and we inch ever-closer to “normal,” providers and healthcare organizations on the whole should expect to see an influx of children in need of mental health care, with different challenges than we’re used to.

On an individual level, providers and patients should work to ensure they’re taking care of themselves emotionally

This pandemic has impacted everyone to a degree, and we all can’t help but be affected emotionally and mentally by the past year. There’ve been so many unknowns during this time that it’s just brought emotional wellness into the forefront. That shift has directly improved awareness of mental health needs and decreased any negative stigma that was attached with mental health.

As we look to the future, I hope people will be less hesitant to take care of themselves emotionally and make sure they have the support they need.

However, there are so many resources available now that it can be overwhelming. If you ever have a question about a health or wellness app, ask your healthcare provider what they recommend. One resource that I personally have been recommending is the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry has a COVID-19 resource library with recommendations and guidelines for parents and families.

At the organizational level, we should all work to continue improving access and expanding behavioral health care programs

From a healthcare policy and delivery perspective, we’ve seen an increase in depression, anxiety, and substance use behaviors over the past year. But we’ve also had more conversations about the need for treatment as well as the need for access. My hope is we continue in this direction, work to improve access, and continue to think creatively about how to deliver it — whether that be virtual, in-person, or through new, innovative mediums.

It’s important that we pay attention to what our patient populations want and need, and don’t move behavioral health programs and mental health services backwards. Already, more and more states are taking permanent steps to support telehealth and audio-only virtual care. And, patient and provider preferences are here to stay, so continuing with that flexibility will be important for the long term success of your programs.

If you’re hoping to build out a sustainable telepsychiatry program at your organization but don’t know where to start, Iris Telehealth is here to help. Contact us and we’ll help you get all the information you need.

Tag Archives: Telepsychiatry Resources

Many Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHCs) have never implemented a formal psychiatry program — much less a telepsychiatry program. But as COVID-19 continues to impact communities around the country, you and your team may find yourselves considering how to build a telepsychiatry program that provides safe, accessible psychiatric solutions to your patients.

Starting a program to provide behavioral health services from the ground up can feel overwhelming. But following these guidelines can help you successfully build a telepsychiatry program for your FQHC that meets patient needs and helps you achieve your holistic care goals.

First, Complete an In-Depth Needs Assessment to Determine Whether a Telepsychiatry Program is Right for Your FQHC

Follow this checklist (in order) to evaluate how a telepsychiatry program would fit into your organization and determine what kind of vendor or telepsychiatry program would meet your needs:

  1. Audit Your EHR: Start by auditing your Electronic Health Record (EHR) to understand how often your organization addresses psychiatric conditions. Note which behavioral health conditions you’re diagnosing most frequently. Also, evaluate medications prescribed to understand which medications your FQHC prescribes the most.
  2. Analyze Psychiatry Referrals: Look at external psychiatric referrals to evaluate how many referrals your primary care physicians are making to external psychiatric facilities — and how long the approximate wait times are for those referrals.
  3. Discuss Staff Feedback: Anecdotes and qualitative information will help you understand how your FQHC’s culture would fit into a telepsychiatry program. Consider surveying your counselors, social workers, primary care providers, and patients to identify care gaps and evaluate your stakeholders’ current thoughts on your organization’s psychiatric care.
  4. Understand the Scope of Psychiatric Needs: Consider your patient demographics, the language and gender of your patient populations, and the complexity of your cases to inform how you approach a telepsychiatry partnership.
  5. Hours and Budget: Understanding the number of hours required and how that compares to your budget will help you shape your telepsychiatry program and the kinds of providers you’ll need to hire. You can also pursue grant funding opportunities if there is a disparity between hours needed and budget.
  6. Regulations: Consider regulations in your state and how they might impact telepsychiatry practices, licensing, and prescribing. Regulations might include whether Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioners (PMHNPs) can practice independently in your state or state regulations about caring for acutely suicidal patients.
  7. Provider Type: You’ll also need to determine whether a physician or psychiatric nurse practitioner best meets your needs. Your state’s regulations will likely inform this decision, as some states might have supervision requirements for PMHNPs.
  8. Other Legal Requirements: Requirements around facility regulations and board certification requirements might affect your ability to implement your telepsychiatry program. If you need help navigating these, let us know. We’re here to help.

After you finish your preliminary needs assessment, you should take a step back and reevaluate your telepsychiatry goals and outline how you plan to measure the success of your program moving forward.

Once You’ve Completed Your Needs Assessment, Evaluate Potential FQHC Telepsychiatry Vendors

You can start evaluating potential vendors if your needs assessment results have proven that your FQHC has the need and the budget to implement a telepsychiatry program.

The first thing you’ll have to do during the evaluation process is to create a checklist to understand your non-negotiable requirements for a telepsychiatry program to ensure potential vendors meet them. Also, ask vendors how their providers are vetted before being recommended for your clinic. Be sure to request referrals from current or past clients to understand how the vendor operates in the FQHC environment. Anytime vendors have Joint Commission Accreditation (JCO), it typically speaks to the quality of their services and their ability to enforce compliance and maintain effective processes.

Because telepsychiatry employs technology differently than traditional psychiatry solutions, you’ll want to evaluate the vendor’s bandwidth for technology support, support hours (whether availability for support is 24/7 or restricted), and whether the vendor will be available on the go-live date. Pay close attention to how they deal with privacy and security, as your telepsychiatry solutions will house sensitive patient information.

After You’ve Chosen a Telepsychiatry Vendor, It’s Time To Begin Implementing Your Program

Implementing a telepsychiatry program at your clinic can be a time-consuming process. These eight steps can help streamline the process:

  1. Credentialing: As soon as you select a member and are matched with a provider, start the credentialing process. Your provider will need to be licensed in your state. Then you’ll need to obtain a license from the DEA and begin credentialing at your facility. This process will vet the provider’s work and education history and verify their references.
  2. Assembling Your Implementation Team: You should begin assembling this team during the credentialing process, and the team should include your clinical lead and key decision-makers.
  3. Assembling Your Telepsychiatry Care Team: Your telepsychiatry care team will be separate from your implementation team and may include desk staff, nurses, medical assistants, counselors, telepsychiatry providers, and administrators.
  4. Training Your Staff: Create workflows specific to your front desk, support staff, and billing/coding team with the ability to scale as your telepsychiatry program grows.
  5. Review Your Technology Workflows: Carefully plan how your technology use and workflows will fit with your telepsychiatry provider before your program’s go-live date, and consider retraining your team on your privacy and security standards.
  6. Decide Your Provider’s Schedule: Consider how many days and hours you will need your telepsychiatry provider to work and ensure you have adequate staffing for that plan.
  7. Market Your Telepsychiatry Services: We recommend beginning recruitment for referrals six weeks before your go-live date — beginning with internal counselors and primary care physicians.
  8. Go-Live: Make sure you plan to do a test run a few days before you’re ready to go live, then you’ll be ready to launch your program!

By Following These Guidelines, You’ll Be Well On Your Way To Starting a Successful Telepsychiatry Program For Your FQHC

Starting a new telepsychiatry program can be intimidating, but fortunately, you don’t have to reinvent the wheel. We’ve seen many FQHCs create successful telepsychiatry programs to serve their communities in creative ways.

To learn more about how Iris Telehealth can help you get your program off the ground, contact us, and we’ll get you the information you need.

Tag Archives: Telepsychiatry Resources

As things start opening back up across the country, many healthcare organizations are starting to think through what post-pandemic care teams and services look like for them. But, particularly in the behavioral health space, it’s becoming increasingly clear that telehealth is here to stay.

According to the American Psychiatric Association, nearly 60% of Americans would use telehealth for mental healthcare, and 43% currently want to continue using telehealth services when the pandemic is over.

With that new data — and telehealth’s ability to expand access to high-quality providers — it’s no surprise that organizations are starting to think through how they can incorporate telepsychiatry into their program as a long-term solution.

But, if your organization is thinking about building a formal program in-house, you should consider some important first steps, limitations, and potential alternatives (like formal telepsychiatry vendor partnerships).

1. Building a telepsychiatry program in-house won’t solve any recruitment challenges

As a medical group dedicated to providing telepsychiatry services to healthcare organizations across the country, Iris Telehealth has access to a provider pool that spans all 50 states. However, individual organizations just starting to transition to telehealth as a long-term solution will likely be limited to the same provider pool they’d use for in-person providers.

And that’s not the only challenge you might encounter. For example, if you have an in-person provider who you think might transition to telehealth on a full-time or part-time basis, they may decide they don’t like telepsychiatry after all. Or they may get scooped up by another organization because they’re not limited by geographical location anymore.

At Iris, however, we not only assess their clinical skills but their technical skills and screen presence as well. We have an intensive vetting process to make sure telepsychiatry is a good fit for that individual provider.

2. A formal telepsychiatry program requires specific technological considerations

Before you officially commit to trying to build a formal telepsychiatry program in-house, you should ask yourself these questions:

  • Do we have the right video platform?
  • Do we have the right security in place (i.e., VPNs)?
  • Will our platform work for our current staff and patients?
  • Is our program HIPAA compliant?
  • Do we have sufficient IT support for handling technological difficulties or glitches?

If you’re uncertain about the answers to any of these questions, a vendor partner like Iris Telehealth might benefit you and your team as you navigate this process. (And, even if we’re not an official partner of yours, we’d be happy to talk through your needs with you.)
Let’s Talk

3. The telehealth landscape is constantly changing (and may be hard to navigate on your own)

Since the pandemic started, there has been a constant reshuffling of what’s okay and what’s not okay. Policies around HIPAA compliance, reimbursements for audio-only appointments, billing and coding, and more have been consistently evolving over the past year — and things are continuing to change as more states pass legislation that permanently expands telehealth services.

It can be challenging to stay on top of all the relevant changes as just one healthcare organization. No matter your size or approach to telehealth, the organization needed to manage telehealth-specific policies will likely be a big lift for your team.

That’s where a vendor partner may come in handy to offer perspectives on how similar organizations are navigating this space right now.

4. You’ll need dedicated, telepsychiatry-specific policies for your providers

There’s a lot of information and “what ifs” to consider if you’re trying to build your own telepsychiatry program.

Here are just a few of the policies you might want to put into place:

  • A standard 90-day grace period for providers leaving your organization. If you don’t tell your provider when they start that they have to give you 90 days’ notice, you may not have time to find a replacement provider when they leave. 90-day policies protect clinics, providers, and patients.
  • A strong policy around computer usage. You don’t want someone accidentally putting a virus on your network if they’re using their computer for other things or are engaging with spammy content.
  • No-show policies and policies for telehealth, specifically around remote patients (not in your clinic).
  • Policies around when the telepsychiatry provider should end a session or not have a session with a particular patient.
  • A billing policy for patients who show up late to appointments.
  • Standard prescribing rules and protocols.

5. Your EMR may not be set up for psych or telepsychiatry right now

If you’re determined to build your telepsychiatry program in-house, the first thing you need to look at is the capabilities and limitations of your EMR.

Make sure you have it set up for psych before you do anything else. A common mistake organizations (particularly FQHCs and CHCs beginning psych services for the first time) make is trying to run their telepsychiatry program the same way they run their primary care. When that happens, they often end up overbooking providers. But behavioral health is a different paradigm.

Remember, ideally, you want your EMR to be able to encompass your scheduling, patient records, e-prescribing, and video in one system.

A formal telepsychiatry vendor partner could help support you and your organization

One of the unique benefits of a partnership with Iris is our Clinical Operations Managers (COMs). We’re a concierge service whose number one goal is making sure you and your patients are getting the care and support you need. If, for example, there’s a scheduling issue or a provider conflict we can help resolve it using solutions we have seen and used at clinics across the country.

Every day, we help mediate and advocate for clinics and clinicians to ensure efficient and effective patient care.

Here’s what that would mean for your organization:

  • Our 24/7 IT support can interface with your organization’s IT to solve problems and can often independently solve them for our providers.
  • We have support for billing and scheduling issues.
  • We are Joint Commission accredited — which means we can assist with provider credentialing and paneling (we have some partners who use us for credentialing by proxy).
  • We match your organization with a top-quality provider who specializes in the areas you need (and who we’ve already vetted to ensure virtual care is a good fit for them).
  • After we’ve matched a provider with your organization, we help make sure they have the right technology and that the doctor knows what they need to know to evaluate your patients.
  • We assume all of the expenses of the benefits and PTO.
  • We are a true partner dedicated to long-term care and service. We make sure our providers are an extension of your team and do everything in our power to ensure continuity of care for your patients.

Whether you’re interested in learning how to make your own program a success or creating a formal partnership with Iris, we’re here to help. Contact us today to get the conversation started.

Tag Archives: Telepsychiatry Resources

Many Community Mental Health Centers (CMHCs) had never implemented a formalized telepsychiatry program before COVID-19. Then, the pandemic forced them and other behavioral health organizations to adapt quickly to a world where telepsychiatry was necessary. Now, many CMHCs are looking into building a sustainable future that incorporates telepsychiatry into their core services to support their patient populations.

It can seem like an overwhelming process at first! But, we’re here to help you get started.

How to build a sustainable telepsychiatry program for your CMHC

As a CMHC, you may face challenges dealing with patient surpluses, lack of quality providers, and difficulty achieving continuity of care – especially if you’re based in a rural community.

A formal telepsychiatry program can help alleviate some of these challenges by allowing you to pull from high-quality providers from different cities and states.

Fortunately, the steps you need to take to get your program started don’t have to be complicated.

  1. First, audit your EHR: Take note of how your organization addresses certain psychiatric conditions and your current patient wait times for mental health services.
  2. Talk about telepsychiatry with your team: Consider how a formal telepsychiatry program will fit into your CMHC’s culture and help you deliver comprehensive mental health care.
  3. Understand the scope of your needs: Think about your patient demographics, what provider type you need, how complex your cases generally are, your CMHC’s mission, and any other language or cultural considerations that are important for your community.
  4. Know your hourly and budgetary needs: Think through how long your current waitlist is and how many service hours would be a good fit for your organization.
  5. Check regulations for your state: Regulations can vary substantially from state to state. Understanding what the landscape looks like where you live is a critical first step.

Once you tick all these boxes, look back at your original goals and consider whether you need to make any changes or adjustments.

Once you lay out your strategy, it’s time to consider telepsychiatry vendor partners

It’s important to carefully vet potential telepsychiatry vendors to ensure they’ll be a good fit for your organization. Before you do anything else, create a checklist to understand your non-negotiable requirements for your telepsychiatry program.

When you’re talking to vendors, ask them how they vet their own providers. Make sure you request referrals and ask hard questions about their quality control processes, how they handle provider implementation, and how they track their own goals. This information should give you a good idea of how they would fit your CMHC’s culture and processes.

Also, analyze vendors’ bandwidth for technology support, their support hours (whether availability for support is 24/7 or restricted), and whether the vendor will be available on the go-live date.

CMHCs should find behavioral health providers who can adapt to their existing workflows and be long-term partners. And remember, the goal is not to replace in-person care but to supplement your existing team of behavioral health providers to better support your patients and improve your quality of care.

We can’t stress this enough – vendor culture fit is crucial to the success of your CMHC’s telepsychiatry program

The right telepsychiatrist can be an invaluable part of your team. For example, one of our Iris CMHC partners realized one of their local psychiatrists was responsible for over 50% of their patient population. They sought out a telepsychiatry partnership to mitigate their risk and diversify their pool of providers. Other Iris Telehealth partners were able to decrease their wait times from one year to five weeks and manage a 180% increase in client intake through their telepsychiatry programs.

As you’re building out your program and working with telepsychiatry vendors, it’s crucial that you carefully vet any potential clinical partners. You’ll want to ensure they provide high-quality care, have experience working with populations similar to yours, and share your CMHCs mission and vision for behavioral health care.

Once you’ve found the right vendor for you, it’s time for implementation and logistics

This process can be time-consuming, so make sure your schedule addresses these steps before your projected go-live date:

  1. Licensing and credentialing: Plan for this to be the longest part of your organization’s implementation process. You should start this process immediately in collaboration with your vendor partner.
  2. Put together your implementation team: This team should include key decision-makers who will be involved in the telepsychiatry program as well as your clinical lead. At Iris, we also recommend having a dedicated “Telehealth Champion” to act as your primary telepsychiatry liaison.
  3. Assemble your telepsychiatry care team: Your care team might include front desk staff, nurses, medical assistants, counselors, and administrators.
  4. Train your staff: You will likely have to create dedicated workflows to help your staff integrate your telepsychiatry program into your organization.
  5. Make sure your technology is in order: Review your technology use and workflows ahead of your go-live date. You may also be able to lean on your telepsychiatry vendor partner for tech support and guidance.
  6. Get the word out about your program:Ahead of your go-live date, start informing your patients and community about your new telepsychiatry services. We recommend doing this work six weeks before your launch date.
  7. Go-live: 24-48 hours before you plan to launch, we recommend going through a dry run to ensure everything is in order. Then, it’s time to officially start services!

Setting up your CMHC telepsychiatry program can feel like a lot of work, but it’s worth it

You can build a better future for your patients and communities by supplementing your critical behavioral health services with telepsychiatry. We’ve already helped many CMHCs create successful telepsychiatry programs to serve their communities.

To learn more about how Iris Telehealth can help you get your program off the ground, contact us, and we’ll get you the information you need.