In a few short months, digitizing services, meetings and schools became the new normal. Medical and mental health services are no exception! With a global pandemic keeping doctors, therapists and patients inside, offering virtual services via telehealth and telemedicine has become vital to practices and the patients they service.
Telehealth and Telemedicine
Telehealth and telemedicine are ways for practices to keep their business alive and thriving online. They also function to continue offering services to patients who may not have easy access to them.
A quick clarification on terms: telemedicine refers to exclusively clinical services that are offered out of office virtually. Telehealth is the umbrella term for any health-related service that is offered online. “According to the ONC, telemedicine refers to remote clinical services – telehealth’s range of services offered is broader”.
However, crises are not the only times telehealth and telemedicine prove to be essential for practices! Though situations like a virus threat makes all of us more tech-reliant, the accessibility and flexibility telehealth services provide are invaluable in day-to-day life as well!
Let’s examine the top 3 benefits of offering telehealth services.
Better mental health outcomes
When you offer telehealth services, your patients can access care much more readily. According to Theranest, 56% of Americans who have a mental health condition do not get adequate treatment. Instead of having to drive perhaps hours to a clinic that their insurance covers, take off work, or rearrange a busy work and family schedule, patients simply need an hour of time during the day – perhaps a lunch break – and a good internet connection to seek the treatment they need. Thus, patients seek care earlier, before their symptoms become serious enough to be hospitalized, or their treatments become difficult and long term.
Studies show that the benefits of virtual therapy and counseling are the same as in-person services. In fact, 96% of patients reported that they derived the same amount of benefit from a virtual therapy session as they did from an in-person clinical appointment.
Flexible and convenient
How many times have you said “It would be great to not have to go into the office today!”? Whether the hurdle was battling the elements on the way to work, or a stressful traffic jam, have you ever showed up to your practice in need of some therapy yourself? How does that impact your patients?
We all have busy schedules – especially those who have service-oriented careers: counselors and therapists. The stress of managing the office effectively while still making time to recharge, spend time with family and take care of things at home doesn’t need to be augmented by scheduling concerns, driving time or accessibility worries. Offering telehealth services on blizzard days or while a patient is away for work or vacation proves to be a flexible and convenient solution to these problems. It gives you another option to work around the problems that life throws at us.
Offering additional hours to clients and being accessible to patients no matter where they are translates very practically as well: your practice is able to generate more income!
A more flexible, convenient therapy solution that benefits both you and your patients? Clearly a win-win situation.
Stay tuned for our next blog post, which will outline the resources you need to start offering telehealth at your practice and a quick guide on telehealth coding and accreditation! Check our resources page for practical tips, blog posts, and information for your practice!