Telehealth Services Becoming More Popular Throughout Behavioral Health

Evolving technologies in the healthcare industry have taken on various forms. First, electronic health record (EHR) systems were transforming patient care. Now, telehealth technologies are steadily on the rise, and virtual care platforms are increasingly making their way into behavioral healthcare.telemedicine-medical-spa-servicesjpg

With telepsychiatry now offered in all 50 states, mental health patients are finally able to get the access to care that has traditionally lacked, for a number of reasons.

First, there's a mental health provider shortage in the U.S. According to the American Association of Medical Colleges, the number of psychiatrists in America increased 12 percent, while simultaneously, the nation's population rose 37 percent, more than three times the rate of mental health providers.

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Furthermore, psychiatrists are the fourth-oldest group of doctors practice among 41 specialties with 60 percent ages 55 or older. And with 43 million adults suffering from mental illness in 2014, there's significant concern that access to care - both now and in the future - will only worsen.

This sets telemedicine up perfectly to provide immediate value in the behavioral health community. Given telemedicine's ability to ease access to care, ideally, many more behavioral health patients will be able to conveniently receive the care and treatment needed for their mental health issues.

In addition, telemedicine helps lower costs for everyone involved and also can help remove the stigma traditionally associated with behavioral health issues since the consultation takes place in a virtual setting, rather than "by lying down on a couch."

For the behavioral health practices that have already implemented telehealth services, data suggests it's been nothing but a positive move.

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According to Teladoc's research on their tele-behavioral health services, 32 percent of patients have seen a decrease in their depression symptoms, a 31 percent decrease in anxiety symptoms and a 20 percent reduction in stress symptoms.

The issue of provider shortages and a rising population of mental health patients still remains a pressing issue for the healthcare community, but the rise of tele-behavioral health will better position the community, as a whole, to provide higher quality care to those who need it.

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