Hello everybody, welcome to this week’s Knowledge Knugget of the Executive Innovation Show. We’re going to be talking about what is telemental health, use cases during COVID, and breaking down how to reduce no-show rates during COVID while keeping folks safe in isolation during this difficult time. 

What is Telemental Health? Mental Health During COVID.

So let’s break down what is telemental health and why it’s not video conferencing, first I want to talk about some statistics. As we look at no-show rates in mental health, it’s anywhere from 23 to 34%, some folks, especially in smaller practices in rural areas are seeing no show rates up to 50%. As we live in this virtual community with COVID being part of our everyday life, how do we effectively use video communications, and how does that extend post-COVID?

What is Telemental Health and Why It’s NOT Video Conferencing

  1.  Telemental health and a telemental health platform are very different from your standard video conferencing or FaceTime, Skype, Google Duo, and things like that. So for telemental health, current video conferencing tools will help if you’re a solo practitioner or solo therapist, but as we look at 10 practices and higher, what are some benefits of a telemental health platform? Why should you be looking at it?
  2.  It allows for best practices for operational efficiencies. As administrators, as executives, you’re able to see across all of your therapists, the number of appointments that they’re doing, the duration, and the patient satisfaction at the end of that patient engagement to gauge how your practice is doing.

How to Reduce No-Show Rates: Shorter Frequency of Appointment Times 

One thing that therapists are doing right now during COVID is breaking session time frames down to keep people’s attention to develop frequent engagement as opposed to your typical one-hour appointment of coming into the office. This makes it much easier from a no-show rate for somebody to carve out 30 minutes of their day to do a video with a telemental appointment, than an hour. If you’re only doing hour appointments, try looking at doing 30-minute check-ins and see if that can move the needle on those no-show rates. Also, as we look at the senior community that’s isolated in nursing homes, we see a dramatic rise in the mental health rates. Video conferencing, historically, has not worked for those demographics because of the complexity of creating accounts and knowing their iTunes passwords to download applications and things of that nature.

What to Consider on Long-Term Telemental and Telebehavioral Platforms? 

We’re looking at something simple with ease of use, like a telemental platform, that is just a couple clicks, browser-based, and with the ability to add caregivers to those interactions. If my mother or father is in a nursing home, I might want to attend some meetings, but not every meeting. I might want to attend those meetings if they have dementia or they have another underlying condition to kind of explain some of the things that I’ve been seeing over the last week or two. Being able to add those caregivers simplistically is crucial. So you might be able to send them a text link or do something other than just opening up a meeting room. When we look at the security around video conferencing, you don’t want to be using URLs that are the same for every single one of your patients because you and I can be having our telemental appointment right now.

My next patient could come five, six minutes early. And all of a sudden I’m in this very uncomfortable position as a mental health provider, that my next patient’s now in the room, listening to our conversation, it completely throws the experience off and shuts the patient down from a compliance perspective for them to open up. So make sure that you’re securing those rooms. Make sure you’re using the proper HIPAA compliance and video security for the token of connection only for that room and not open up to additional parties to join. The next is our youth. You have a lot of folks that are not going to school right now. They’re doing virtual school, maybe they’re doing a hybrid model and they’re used to being able to talk to that guidance counselor, that teacher, whatever that may be, and that’s not happening.

Being able to virtually have more check-ins with youth, to be able to add in case managers, adding birth parents, foster parents, things like that to help get all of those parties involved. Breaking up and being able to have parties dip off, maybe some are only on for 10 minutes and then you talk to the child or the parents at the end of the session. Having that flexibility of workflow that helps out with the follow-up is crucial and is required.

Differences of Video Conferencing in Telemental Health Services

The last thing that I’m wanting to cover in the differences of video conferencing in telemental health is the ability to have the analytics behind the technology to be able to look at solo accounts. If you wanted to go look at 10 therapists, you’d have to go one by one by one, having that overarch across different physical locations or virtual workforces. For those folks working from home and having that insight into what’s going on, having a therapist survey at the end to know if there need to be more frequent visits or if they’re okay for a couple of weeks is helpful as well as crucial from this standpoint.

How to Reduce No Show Rates in Mental Health?

So if we go back and we look at no-show rates, if we look at the average 10 provider practice and the loss of revenue, no shows per year are over $850,000 to that practice. If it’s not a priority for you, it should be a priority for you to decrease those no-show rates. You can do that by utilizing a hybrid model. Telemental health helps with reducing those no-show rates while keeping your therapist and your patients safe. As we look at that, and as we look at the other side of it, how do you acquire new patients? One of the big things going on right now with COVID is it’s very hard to acquire new patients because people aren’t coming in, make sure you have a virtual intake process for new patients to be able to provide their insurance, to be able to fill out any new paperwork online, make sure that you reduce that appointment time for that first appointment, the average is usually 13 days.

That will help from that standpoint of being able to do that, even if it’s a 15-minute call for a new patient to have that initial session to understand what they’re looking to get out of therapy, it’s helpful. Then from a marketing standpoint, telemental health allows you to broaden that geography reach. There’s plenty of mental health shortages in the area. There’s plenty of outpatient settings that are very hard to get psych appointments. Where it’s very hard to get a therapy appointment. Look at your geographical reach in your radius that you’ve typically been marking and think about what opportunities can be opened up. How do you look at your schedule? If you’re still doing physical appointments with people who are coming in, how do you manage that schedule and say, I’m going to do telehealth in the morning, and I’m going to do physical appointments in the afternoon, or vice versa on certain days to get the most efficiency.

Most mental health providers can see sometimes two and three times more patients per day by doing shorter telehealth visits versus in-person logistics of waiting rooms and walking people in and out and things of that nature. The last thing is a good telehealth platform that will allow you to do on-demand crises. A lot of therapists don’t provide this today even though it allows a great opportunity for an increase in revenue and better outcomes with your patients. If you’re supporting skilled nursing facilities, nursing homes, or school districts, being able to have a telemental health, digital lobby, right on your website would allow your patients to click a button and it would text any therapist or professional that could handle that.

If you’re set up for that type of environment or you want to be in that type of environment, proper on-demand crisis, telemental health can be beneficial. 

Stay tuned to the podcast as we help each other navigate through this new normal. Be on the lookout for additional podcasts on telehealth workflows and what to expect in this virtual world as more states lock back down. 

Want more telemental solutions and best practices in workflows? Download our Telemental Health White Paper here

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