Treating Behavioral Health Conditions with Connected Health
Behavioral health issues continue to be a significant problem in the United States, with more than 43 million adults dealing with some sort of mental illness, yet 56% of them say they have not received care, with 20% claiming to not have access to appropriate behavioral health services. When it comes to the youth population, the shortfall is treatment is even more staggering, with more than 12% of children suffering from Major Depressive Episode, yet 62% did not any care at all, and only 23% of children with severe depression receive consistent treatment
While some patients prefer traditional in-person care – and some conditions are best served by in-person visits – newer connected health technologies enable services that can help bridge the gap between patient needs and treatment by extending patient care outside the four walls of a facility.
Connected health platforms can allow sharing of patient information with specialists and other providers who may be called upon to help determine treatment needs or effectiveness. The ability to share patient data in real time and engage via voice or video across distances allows medical professionals to quickly and easily facilitate assessments and treatment for patients without requiring multiple, costly in-person visits.
Video and/or phone consultations can facilitate patient access to behavioral health services, alleviating challenges related to geography, cost, and time. Depending on individual circumstances, remote care can replace, supplement, or identify the need for in-person care. Sessions can be used for evaluations, behavioral therapy sessions, and follow-up care.
Live chats and email can complement in-person or virtual consultations as a means of facilitating regular engagement between patients and providers. Higher engagement rates give patients the comfort of having access to the regular care they need and allows therapists to follow up regularly without requiring excessive time or costs. Online engagement may also include information exercises to educate patients and offer a private learning experience to go along with live interactions. Digital portals also allow patients and providers to provide updates and feedback that may not require live interactions.
Mobile apps and text messaging offer another convenient means of communication between patients and their therapists using familiar technology they use every day. Mobile devices can also be used for virtual consultations, making it an even more convenient alternative to traditional care. Both mobile and online applications can be used for ongoing assessment, progress reporting, medication monitoring and management, and for scheduling remote or in-person sessions.
Social support groups have long been a means of helping treat a variety of conditions. Digital networking via social media groups and online forums help patients engage with others with similar conditions and needs to provide mutually beneficial support and advice. Support groups can help prevent regression or relapse.
Games and Simulations
Much like games have been designed to facilitate education in schools, online games can become part of treatment programs for many behavioral disorders and can help patients learn to cope with their conditions. In addition to increasing access to and lowering costs of treatment, connected health applications can drive more efficient and consistent care for patient with behavioral health conditions. By leveraging technology, providers are able to extend care to new patients who have not previously had access to behavioral health services, increasing the care rate while maximizing revenue potential. At the same time, telehealth services can reduce provider costs and time required for not only patient interactions, but many data entry and management tasks that have become burdensome for doctors and creating a high rate of burnout.
For patients, online applications, mobile devices, and video communication are part of daily activities, so it stands to reason they will be quick to adopt them to access much needed services. Importantly, connected health applications also allow patients to receive treatment for conditions in private, helping address the stigma of mental health conditions.
To learn more about how telehealth and other connected health services can help provide better services to more patients, connect with us here.