How TeleHealth Powered by MedOptions is Transforming Behavioral Health Treatment in Rural Communities


How TeleHealth Powered by MedOptions is Transforming Behavioral Health Treatment in Rural Communities

By: Randy DioGuardi, MBA, Director of Telehealth

One of the biggest obstacles to quality behavioral health care for patients in rural areas is their location. While shortages of mental health care providers are an issue nation-wide (see this data from The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation), and the U.S. Health Resources & Services Administration (HRSA) estimates that the United States will need to add a total of 70,000 providers in various mental healthcare professions by 2025 to meet demand, rural populations are affected even more by this issue as the HRSA estimates that 60% of those living in a mental health professional shortage area are in rural locations.

One way to help bridge this gap is through telemedicine, and TeleHealth Powered by MedOptions is doing just that. The first way telehealth helps in rural areas is with consistent access to providers. With weekly telehealth clinical visits at facilities participating in TeleHealth Powered by MedOptions, patients are now being seen on a regular basis where before, many patients were being seen only once a month or quarterly. This increased availability to care correlates to improved clinical outcomes. Improved access to care and behavioral health sessions via telehealth also correlate to improved success with Gradual Dose Reduction (GDR) of antipsychotics – an important factor in a facility being considered compliant with F-Tag 329 guidelines.  Furthermore, telehealth provides a state-of-the-art way for staff at a facility to communicate with behavioral health specialists to gain further knowledge and updates on action plans, rather than waiting for a provider to be on site for monthly or quarterly visits.

In the 2017 fiscal year, TeleHealth Powered by MedOptions conducted more than 12,000 visits in eight different states, connecting urban and rural areas like never before. This care resulted in a reduction of emergency room visits and cost savings for patients, and has taken a huge step forward in educating the industry on this new health care delivery system. As MedOptions Chief Psychology Officer Dr. Laura Etre mentioned in her latest blog on Cognitive Behavioral Psychotherapy, there is also published evidence that traditional behavioral health techniques are just as effective via telemedicine as they are in person, which means a bright future for telehealth and the patients it serves.

To learn more about how telehealth is improving quality of care and increasing health care access, or to get more information about implementing TeleHealth Powered by MedOptions at your facility, please call 1-800-370-3651 or email me at rdioguardi@medoptionsinc.com.