How is Telemedicine (Teletherapy) Changing the Business Landscape for Behavioral Practices? Should Your Practice Consider Offering this?
Since its discovery in the 1950s, telemedicine has evolved from the normal dynamics of medical practice. From improving access for people in rural areas to opening new opportunities for healthcare providers, telemedicine has expanded the delivery of health services.
Similar to remote work systems under the covid-19 pandemic, telemedicine entails non-physical interactions between healthcare providers and patients. Both persons communicate from different locations using technological software. This article will discuss the impacts of telemedicine, particularly teletherapy, on behavioral practices, future trends in telemedicine, and the benefits of telemedicine to healthcare delivery, among others. Read on to learn more.
Impacts of Teletherapy on the Business Landscape for Behavioral Practices
The following are the impacts of teletherapy on the business landscape for behavioral health practices.
Improvement in the Delivery of Mental Health Services
With the emergence of the Covid-19 pandemic, there was a need for sustained provision of healthcare services. In particular, mental health services already faced a pre-existing problem of staff shortages, with 77% of US counties having an insufficient number of experts.
One in five US adults have been reported by the National Institute of Mental Health to live with mental health challenges. Considering this figure, the appointment-based model in the traditional setting limits the availability of services to clients. To reach a mental health practitioner, a patient would normally need to cross long distances where one is unavailable in their immediate environment. And with various measures to contain the pandemic, movement is far more burdensome.
Thus, the adoption of teletherapy allows providers to connect with more clients in a liberalized fashion.
Adoption of Technology for Mental Health Service Provision
Another impact of teletherapy on the behavioral health landscape is the increase in the adoption of web-based technology. Prior to the pandemic, behavioral health solutions were majorly offered through physical means. With the pandemic, however, software applications have had to be deployed.
The implication of this is a need for practitioners and clients alike to understand the use of online tools. For healthcare providers, there is a need to fuse knowledge from training focused on physical therapies with tech-based services. For instance, a provider can assess cues from the client’s body language in a physical psychotherapy session; this may not be feasible online. There is also the need to navigate challenges on network quality and client familiarity with online tools for seamless delivery of services.
As such, there is a need for mental health practitioners to improve former methods of service to adapt to the new dynamics. Practolytics provides mental health practitioners access to cutting edge technology solutions to perform their usual face to face services using the telehealth model, thus enhancing their ability to interact with patients seamlessly and provide quality patient care.
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Legal jurisdiction constitutes one of the main challenges to telemedicine. Using telecommunications software in providing response implies an improvement in client-professional connections. Patients can receive health services across different geographical regions. In turn, this necessitates compliance with varying state laws.
The health professional must comply with applicable laws in his state and those of the client. A result of this is that for healthcare outfits to supply cross-regional services, they may have to develop staff capacity in the area of laws.
Furthermore, health professionals must comply with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, 1996 (HIPAA). This means that service delivery models such as what software they use must protect client privacy in accordance with legal standards. As a result, there is a need to invest in the technicalities involved here.
Reduction in Running Costs
Teletherapy helps to reduce the cost of operating a healthcare facility. Because it is primarily online, behavioral health practice owners can minimize or totally remove the costs of keeping a physical office. This makes it easier to manage their business.
Benefits of Telemedicine to Healthcare Delivery
This is perhaps the foremost benefit of telemedicine. Seeking help online enables the client to avoid problems of stigmatization, such as being seen at a mental healthcare facility. People who hitherto would have been unable to access such services due to distance, lack of time, or disabilities can do so conveniently without hassle.
Ease of Communication
Also, being within their own living space, clients may be better at ease communicating with the professional.
Telemedicine equally allows patients to receive medical care without violating protocols. The professional can do the same without either putting the other at risk. The adoption of telemedicine additionally reduces congestion at hospitals as behavioral health cases can be diverted online.
One risk attached to visiting hospitals is the possibility of infection by other patients. When clients do not have to visit brick-and-mortar health facilities, they are shielded from this risk, thus preventing a complication of their own cases.
Under a wave of regulations on client privacy and telemedicine as a service itself, professionals have to improve their models. Consequently, practice owners offer services based on the medical and technological competencies of their staff.
Reimbursements from Medicare and Medicaid
Traditionally, for reimbursement to occur, patients have to be situated within particular rural areas. This came with restrictions on the providers that could offer health services. However, in light of the pandemic, there has been a relaxation of these requirements.
According to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, providers can now offer telehealth services to patients with fewer restrictions as to what form the service takes. The aim is to reduce patient exposure to Covid-19 in health facilities. However, reimbursement rules will be back in place immediately after the pandemic ends. Thus, providers can expect a return to methods applied before the pandemic.
Without a doubt, telemedicine has seen an increasing rate of adoption by healthcare providers. It offers a range of new benefits and portends fresh potentials for the sector. Over time, however, providers should anticipate a wave of accompanying trends.
These include mergers and acquisitions between facilities with fewer resources and those with more. As the ability to adopt high-end technologies will determine survival in a regulated space, practice owners will need to invest heavily to keep their heads up.
Additionally, telemedicine will influence the behavioral patterns of patients towards healthcare. Knowing that minor cases can be attended to from the comfort of their homes, they will likely opt more for online services. Providers, on the other hand, can run flexible hours of work under less stringent conditions. In all, the pandemic-related spike in the adoption of telemedicine will open a floodgate of healthcare prospects.
Before your practice begins to offer telehealth, it is important to consider all the associated factors. Technological infrastructure, legal provisions, and staff capacity are aspects that must all be put into perspective before the model is adopted. If you are looking at how to ease the hassles of investing in high end technology at a reasonable and affordable pricing model, think of Practolytics as your trusted partner in delivering high class telehealth services. From setting up the systems and protocols, to submission and collection of the payments, Practolytics takes care of everything that is needed for you to focus on patient care.ALSO READ – Effects of Patient AR Build Up on Your Practices – Best Practices to Set Your House In Order