Being There without Being There: The Importance of Remotely Offering Behavioral Health Support

By |Published On: November 18th, 2020|

One of the most valuable lessons that we’ve learned in the healthcare landscape over the past 20 years is the importance of behavioral health in all areas of treatment delivery. It affects how patients interact with care providers, prioritize medication adherence, maintain diets, stay active, and manage all other areas of wellness. The World Health Organization has, for decades, discussed the importance of integrating mental health services into primary healthcare. As this need has been further explored and refined over the years, we’ve seen that there is a need to offer mental health services outside of traditional office settings, whether it’s actual telepsychiatry or broader remote counseling.

Even prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, which has considerably amplified the need for remote health services in all spaces (telehealth visits are expected to top 1 billion by the end of 2020 worldwide), the unpredictable and constant presence of behavioral issues in patient’s lives has long mandated engagement from specialists even when providers can’t see their patients in person. In addition to the immediate positive impact that remote behavioral healthcare has on singular mental health issues, like depression or anxiety, it can also create and increase positive outcomes in the ongoing treatment of other health conditions.

Behavioral Health for Medication Adherence

Behavioral health issues like depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, and others can play a key role in the decline of medication adherence, while also commonly occurring alongside chronic issues. Erratic changes and mood, extreme high and lows, and stress-related distractions can cause affected patients to miss their medication doses. If we follow this connective tissue to the potentially lifesaving importance of medications for issues like heart disease, diabetes, hypertension and others, we can clearly see how greater access to behavioral health care in remote settings can help divert patients toward missing their medications on a regular basis. The reality is that sometimes patients can’t get in-person access to behavioral health when they need it. Digital therapeutic solutions for medication adherence address the main causes of noncompliance.

Consistent, Dynamic, and Quality Support

There’s more to remote care than pre-scheduled Zoom sessions and phone calls. Remote behavioral health support can encompass a wide variety of interventions, including mobile text messaging, email, spontaneous video conferencing, and a variety of others to offer in-the-moment support, decrease escalation and provide a broader range of support for various mental health issues. The nature of behavioral health is fluid. Shifts in mood are unpredictable and can immediately impact people’s day and even their personal safety. Digital therapeutics for behavioral health allow providers to apply their expertise from anywhere in the world and save patients in-the-moment as they experience events.

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Education and Appointment Adherence

Appointment adherence is particularly challenging in the long-term management of both chronic and episodic disorders, as individuals with serious mental illness are more likely to miss appointments and show poor adherence with the prescribed plan of care. Patients with mental illness miss appointments for a variety of reasons (they aren’t feeling up to it, they get discouraged, they get distracted, etc.). Remote access to behavioral health services allows them to mitigate the personal and logistical barriers that can get in the way of treatment. Data from the University of Maryland in Baltimore points to how text messages, virtual reminder systems and other remote behavioral interventions can improve appointment adherence for patients in multiple populations.

Leveraging the Full Capabilities of Remote Care in Behavioral Health

GoMo Health has seen, first-hand, how remote care can make a profound difference in the management of various behavioral health conditions, like depression, anxiety, trauma, substance use, and more. We’ve also seen how these interventions can influence the behavioral health issues that intersect with and influence care related to serious and urgent chronic physical health conditions. In a time when more and more individuals are experiencing chronic mental health issues and are, paradoxically, finding it more difficult to access in-person care, remote behavioral helps to increase access to lifesaving treatment, improve daily quality of life for vulnerable populations, and decrease escalation of potentially urgent situations.

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