America is currently in the throes of a mental health epidemic. Some 40 million Americans suffer some form of mental illness, which means that just about all of us are touched by it in some way. One in five adults are suffering a mental illness already, and most experts believe that the problem is continuing to get worse, based on the climbing depression rates of the nation’s youth.
Mental illnesses are often called invisible or silent. It’s hard to spot the signs of depression or other conditions, particularly when symptoms compel the patient to retreat from family, friends and healthcare professionals. But even though mental illness is an invisible epidemic, healthcare providers cannot turn a blind eye to the issue.
Fortunately, providers have started to recognize the benefits of telehealth as it pertains to the treatment of mental illness. While adoption is not widespread, 75 percent of healthcare executives do believe that telemedicine has the potential to transform the standard of care for behavioral health and psychiatry.
Here are three reasons why providers are optimistic about telehealth solutions for treatment of mental disorders.
Access to care:
Access is a big piece of the puzzle when it comes to the mental health epidemic, and telehealth solutions enable providers to open new doors to help patients find the right doctor for their needs, regardless of geography.
Missed appointment rates:
Patients suffering with mental health are typically more likely to miss or skip appointments than someone seeking treatment for pneumonia or a broken leg. It just comes with the territory. But how can a patient make strides without consistently seeing their doctors and counselors regularly? A recent MDLIVE virtual mental health study put the industry’s rate for no-shows between 30 and 40 percent. Under the MDLIVE program that figure was only 3.5 percent.
Maintaining medication adherence is also a huge part of the equation when it comes to treating mental health disorders. In a recent 12-month study of 199 schizophrenia patients, researchers found that only 47 percent of doses were taken over the course of a year. But with the utilization of a telehealth system, practitioners can maintain constant contact at home with a patient to encourage their adherence. Without that connection, doctors have little control once a prescription is written and the patient leaves the office.
Even if you can’t see it, there are people suffering with mental illnesses around you every day. But thanks to advances in telehealth, this epidemic can finally be addressed properly. To see how your organization can get started, click here.