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COVID-19 has impacted almost every aspect of our lives, including how we access health-related services. The shift from in-person treatment to remote care has made mental and behavioral health resources more accessible.
“This continues post-pandemic as marginalized populations can stay connected with their care providers, as needed,” said David Moore, AVP Behavioral Health. “As a result, telemedicine has become an essential and permanent part of the health care system.”
The shift to telemedicine during COVID-19
COVID-19 forced medical providers to transform how they respond to patient needs. Although telemedicine has been around for decades, virtual appointments were uncommon until the pandemic hit. In March 2020, it’s estimated that fewer than 1 percent of appointments were virtual. Just one month later, when COVID-19 was in full swing, studies in some areas show that telemedicine accounted for up to 80 percent of all visits.
At the start of the pandemic, telemedicine services were a necessity. “When the pandemic began, in-person office visits were restricted,” said Moore. “We had to rely on virtual appointments to meet the needs of our patients.”
The benefits of telemedicine services
Throughout the pandemic, behavioral health specialists and patients have grown to appreciate the benefits of remote care. Since virtual appointments can take place in the comfort of one’s own home, therapy can fit into any lifestyle. Regardless of your location, a team of specialists is always available.
“Without telemedicine, many people wouldn’t be receiving the treatment they need,” said Moore. “It’s made behavioral health care more convenient, engaging and accessible.”
Telemedicine also saves time. Instead of spending countless hours commuting to and from appointments, your health care team is a click away. Since it’s so accessible, you’re less likely to cancel an appointment and more likely to prioritize your health care needs.
Support for mental and behavioral health challenges
COVID-19 has been especially difficult for those who struggle with depressive or suicidal thoughts. “Our biggest concern is the well-being and safety of our patients,” said Moore. “In the virtual setting, we put procedures in place to handle emotional crises.” These days, mental and behavioral health clinicians receive training to deescalate most crisis cases remotely.
If a patient discusses thoughts of self-harm with their therapist, their therapist works to develop a plan of action, including what to do if these thoughts occur outside the clinical setting. They also determine who the patient can go to for emotional support. Thanks to telemedicine, behavioral health providers can connect directly with this support system. As a result, all parties can solidify a plan in case of an emergency.
Although telemedicine has only recently become a mainstream treatment option, it’s growing in popularity. “Many newcomers to therapy are trying it because it’s convenient, private and accessible,” said Moore. “Telemedicine is a vital resource for all behavioral health clinicians and patients. Telemedicine is a quality initiative!”
Inspira Health offers comprehensive behavioral health services for children, adolescents and adults, learn more. To make an appointment, call 1-800-INSPIRA or request an appointment online.
Inspira Health is a high reliability organization (HRO), which means safety is the top priority for patients and staff.