• Jessica Piszker

Telehealth: Does it Work?

Due to the pandemic, closure of healthcare facilities, and the suspension of all but emergency services, years of backlogged legislation around telehealth has been passed to accommodate the millions in need of healthcare.


With the understanding that Covid-19 isn’t going anywhere for a while, telehealth will be a growing model for healthcare providers moving forward.


To its credit, in the past months of the pandemic, telehealth has contributed to safely keeping millions of patients treated in the comfort of their own homes, even expanding access to those previously unable to seek care.


And despite dozens of studies showing its efficacy (aka it works) – not to mention the fact that it's been around since the 1960s, many are still skeptical. 


So what is telehealth? Is it a fad? Does telehealth actually work? 


Let's dive in. 


Okay, so what’s telehealth? What’s telebehavioral healthcare? 


The Center for Connected Health Policy defines telehealth as encompassing a wide variety of technologies and tactics to deliver virtual medical, health, and education services. Telehealth is not a specific service, but a collection of means to enhance care and education delivery.


At Telebehavioral Health.US, we’ve been using telehealth exclusively to provide behavioral healthcare and therapy since 2016.


In fact, we were the first telebehavioral healthcare company in the state of Michigan!


And now, we're Michigan's largest telebehavioral healthcare company, serving people in Michigan, Florida, Colorado, California, and Pennsylvania (with more states coming soon!)


We provide outpatient psychotherapy using a "Direct to Consumer Care Model" supported by the American Telehealth Association (ATA) and the American Psychological Association (APA).


Our slogan is "same therapy, different couch.” for a reason... because that’s exactly what it is.


Telehealth provides accessibility and affordability from the comfort of your couch. 


Is telehealth a fad?


Telehealth is here to stay.


The global pandemic has propelled telehealth to the forefront of patients' and providers’ minds. It has become a must-have in our society. We wish it did not take Covid-19 to push telehealth forward, but here we are.


Before the global pandemic, telehealth was already experiencing growth.


In fact, it has been slowly trying to integrate itself as a staple in the health world for quite some time.


Some people worry that telehealth is too new. But, telehealth has been used successfully since the 1960s and was proposed in "Science and Invention" magazine in the 1920s. 


According to Lisa Mazur, partner at McDermott Will and Emery, "Telehealth was already experiencing significant momentum and growth prior to this public health emergency, and its continued trajectory has been solidified by the vital role it is playing in care delivery today." 


The arguments against telehealth come from worry and myths.


Naturally, there is always pushback when something is new because change is uncomfortable. Yet telehealth is the opposite of uncomfortable because you can do it in the comfort of your own home. 


Does telehealth actually work?


Simply, yes, telehealth works.


It’s convenient, it offers increased access, customizable care, and increased overall satisfaction. 


“Time and time again as clinicians we have been taught that no matter the modality that we learn and implement, it’s the quality of the relationship and quality of the engagement that changes the course of someone's healing within the context of the mental health treatment,” says Kelly Skrzypchak, Clinical Director of Telebehavioral Health.US.


“This is just learning to use the Platform of Telehealth to engage with patients.”


Convenience


All you need for a telehealth visit is a laptop or smartphone with a webcam and internet access.


People worry the technology will make their virtual visit a hassle, and for some technology is a barrier. If that's the case, we will help navigate any complexity and make sure you're comfortable getting online and into the sessions.


We use a secure platform that is easy to navigate. 


Access


The accessibility of telehealth is one of its most significant assets.


Patients who live in remote areas, who do not have access to a vehicle, who have young children who need childcare, or individuals who have a hectic life and so on, now have a better way to see their provider.


If you have ever dreaded scheduling follow-up appointments or making room in your calendar for regular therapy sessions, now you have a more natural way to connect.


Also, clinicians will have fewer missed appointments because patients are less likely to cancel when they can meet from wherever they are. Bonus: less time spent in the waiting room. 


Customizable care


Providers can focus on providing the best care to each patient through appropriately timed assessments.


And individualized appointments allow providers to track the trends of each patient over time. 


Reduced stigma


The stigma around seeking behavioral healthcare is a known barrier for many.


Telebehavioral healthcare is a way to privately and safely seek help.


Satisfaction


Patients find added satisfaction with the convenience, flexibility, and increased quality time with their providers. And a lot of patients find they are more relaxed when they get to be in their own homes.


Providers, some of whom have also been skeptical, are finding they have a better work-life balance, reduced stress, and higher productivity.


"It's a parallel process,” says Kelly, “when the providers are less burdened with everyday barriers, then what will happen is that they can show up in new more attentive, attuned and helping roles for the greater good of the population."


The Reality


The hard reality is that one in five Americans per year are diagnosed with a mental health disorder.


56% of U.S. adults do not receive proper treatment for their mental health disorders.


111 million people live in provider shortage areas.


And... mental illness is the number one source of disease burden in the US.


Improving mental health is not a simple fix, and telehealth alone cannot fix all of the challenges we face today, but it can bring us all a step closer.


It helps remove barriers to care like location, transportation, convenience, and cost.


Telehealth and telebehavioral healthcare is a part of our new normal, and we embrace it! 


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