Telepsychiatry Helps Keep Hospitals Open in a Time of Unprecedented Change





Hospitals around the country are facing immense disruptions and unprecedented losses this year. To prepare for possible surges of COVID-19, many hospitals put elective procedures on hold. An estimated 28 million elective surgeries have been canceled worldwide.

In addition to cancellations, many patients have been avoiding seeking care for non-COVID-19 illnesses due to fear of being exposed to the virus or over-run hospitals. While this decrease was welcome at first to make way for respiratory patients, it is having unwelcome side effects on both patients and hospitals alike.

Patients’ fears and surgical cancellations have led many healthcare organizations to close their doors or lay off staff in recent months. An April survey found that 40% of integrated health systems saw greater than 50% reductions in revenue, with nearly all health systems reporting 25% or greater losses. 84% reported that they had to furlough employees, while 75% reduced salaries. The American Hospital Association estimated that COVID-19-related losses from March through June total over $200 billion.

COVID-19 is changing telehealth policies

In response, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) instigated new policies to increase telehealth adoption and reduce barriers to care. Maintaining continuity of care and giving patients safe, accessible care options can help reduce the consequences of delayed preventative or routine care.

New CMS guidance has also been put in place to encourage the use of telehealth. As of March, providers are now allowed to bill for patients seen at home via videoconferencing, without needing an originating site, regardless of their location.

Virtual visits allow patients to receive the care they need, without fear of spreading or catching COVID-19.

Telepsychiatry offers a solution for both patients and providers

As discussed in previous articles, telepsychiatry is well suited to provide care in high-risk infection situations, such as the one the world faces today. Virtual visits allow patients to receive the care they need, without fear of spreading or catching COVID-19.

The American College of Physicians is urging more providers to adopt telehealth into their practices. Virtual visits help to mitigate exposure for sick and at-risk patients, as well as protecting healthcare workers.

Epidemics such as the one we face now take a great toll on mental health. Disruptions to our daily lives, the loss of physical and social connections, and isolation can all worsen mental health issues and cause new issues to occur in previously mentally well patients. Today, many of us continue to self-isolate, a situation that few could have predicted lasting this long.

Telepsychiatry can help address mental health patient needs and offer a continuing revenue stream for struggling healthcare systems. Since March, the use of virtual healthcare has skyrocketed, with nearly 46% of patients now using it. The majority of users also indicated that they would like to continue using this care model in the future.

Before 2020, virtual healthcare visit revenue was predicted to be around $3 billion. With recent changes, those estimates have been revised to $250 billion, with telemedicine poised to take over approximately 20% of all Medicare and Medicaid spending.

Rapidly scale your telepsychiatry options

MindCare can help your clinic or hospital system implement and rapidly scale telepsychiatry offerings to fill the current COVID-19 gaps in patient care. Our customizable technology platform allows us to integrate with your specific requirements quickly and be up and running in your office with little disruption.

At MindCare, we work with you to be an extension of your team. Let our experts help your hospital provide increased access to trained mental health specialists. We have more than 80 board-certified physicians and behavioral health professionals ready to provide consultations, patient visits, and timely access to care. When you work with us, you will have 24/7 access to our mental health specialists to review challenging cases and ensure patients receive high-quality care.

Our team is setting a new standard of care for telepsychiatry. MindCare health professionals work closely with your on-site team to provide support and care for both the physical ailments as well as the mental challenges patients and providers face today.

Congratulations to the MindCare team, who have just been awarded the Gold Seal of Approval® from The Joint Commission for our telepsychiatry program. The Gold Seal is a symbol of quality that reflects a healthcare organization’s commitment to providing safe and quality patient care.

If your organization is contemplating making the transition to telepsychiatry, read our special guide: Consult-Liaison Psychiatry Tips for Telepsychiatry During COVID-19.

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