Behavioral Health & Telemedicine Drive Real Value

June 2015

This piece is summarized from’s blog.

The behavioral health and medical care delivery systems have long been separate, but the tides are changing. We’re seeing that increased efforts to grow behavioral health service capacity through better integration with clinical care have health systems turning toward telemedicine.

Yet, providers and payors still question how this type of partnership will drive real value for the organization and impact outcomes.

Opportunity lies within:
  • Greater Access to Care: Telemedicine grants providers the ability to offer care from multiple locations at once—allowing patients access to care at more convenient times and locations. Only 38 percent of adults with diagnosable mental health problems actually receive treatment, meaning more than 60 percent of individuals who know they need help aren’t able to receive it due to commonly cited challenges of not knowing where to go, inconvenience and lack of transportation.
  • Proactive Prevention: Through practices such as screening, brief intervention and referral to treatment (SBIRT), problematic use issues, abuse and dependence on alcohol and illicit drugs can be proactively identified, reduced and prevented before ballooning into something greater.
  • Financial Gain: Virtual visits and virtual early intervention through SBIRT also positively impact the finances of the individual’s employer and insurer due to the reduced risk of costly and unanticipated urgent care and emergency department visits. Moreover, the reduction in facility costs and increased access to patients makes telehealth, and telepsychiatry specifically, a cost-effective alternative to in-person treatments, while delivering much needed care.
Developing new avenues to deliver care that support behavior change, can not only be a more cost-effective strategy, but can also be a smarter strategy to ensure better quality of care.