Health and Wellness Informatics News

The demand for virtual mental healthcare services surges during the COVID-19 pandemic

Providers are learning valuable lessons which can help them to provide effective digital care.

The healthcare industry has been learning about virtual services for mental health. The covid pandemic has offered a crash course in this model of care delivery. Rob Havasy, the Managing Director of Personal Connected Health Alliance, and Jamey Edward have recently met Jonah Comstock. This meeting was to discuss how the industry is coping with the spike in demand for these virtual mental healthcare services. Providers can expect to move forward with it.

Although this demand is spiking high during this pandemic, the interest in virtual mental health care services is increasing. What people are not realizing is that telepsychiatry and telehealth services are much in demand before covid. The COVID-19 worked as a catalyst for the adoption of these services.

This pandemic has rightly created an increase in the demand for mental health services. However, the supply of psychiatrists is not increasing. Thus digital health is the only way that can drive more and more accessible and can help them to solve this imbalance. As a result of this, virtual mental health services have become the norm. Providers are learning a lot of lessons that can help them to deliver effective virtual mental healthcare in the coming future.

According to Havasy, younger patients are more likely to embrace these virtual tools. A variety of age groups have their preference in the variety of ways to interact with the clinician. It is breaking down to the younger ones who like voice communication or chat-based communication. A video doesn’t always need to be present.

Virtual mental healthcare can also help the patients address the problems as they are unfolding. As Havasy says, rather than trying to remember what has happened a week ago and speaking about it in a session, patients can communicate. They can connect virtually with the providers as an issue comes up. 

Therapists can easily address the problem with the chat-based or guided tool. Patients can also record what happened at the moment so that they can use it during their face-to-face encounter session.

Edwards, on the other hand, thinks that the providers require a strategy for escalation. Similar to the digital front door, the first step of accessing the healthcare system is similar for health. Here one can start with the chatbots. At the same time, one can also escalate to a much higher level of care.

Havasy points out that a lot of people are more comfortable with engagement with providers. This is basically when they do not have to go into an office. Edwards says some of the populations are having the shut down for virtual mental health care. 

Unfortunately, there is a digital divide as many of the members do not have broadband access or smartphones. Thus they need to make sure that they are promoting equity in healthcare.