After more than a year of pandemic-induced stress and anxiety, the conversation around maintaining mental health is now more public than ever.
The longstanding taboos and misinformation around mental health are slowly but surely entering the limelight, with more people feeling confident to come forward and share their own struggles. Even on an international stage such as the 2021 Olympic Games in Tokyo, we saw Team USA star gymnast Simone Biles pull out of competition and subsequently pinpoint mental health as the cause.
Recently, Fierce Healthcare reported that 49% of all Medicaid visits for mental health were conducted via telehealth, a drastic increase from pre-pandemic numbers. In addition, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services have proposed to lift regulations which would allow Americans in rural and underserved communities to access telehealth services for mental health from their home, according to Healthcare Finance News.
Read on for our monthly roundup of the most significant developments in telehealth:
Healthcare Finance News
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services have proposed to lift restrictions on utilizing home telehealth services, which would expand access to mental health services for rural and underserved communities. The changes would allow Medicare to pay for mental health services conducted via telehealth when provided by Rural Health Clinics or Federally Qualified Health Centers.
Healthcare IT News
The rise in telehealth services has led to an increase in the number of Americans seeking virtual treatment for behavioral and mental health. Telehealth services provide Americans living in parts of the country with few clinicians access to specialists in more populated regions.
A recent survey by Anthem found that before the pandemic telehealth usage for mental health services was in the single digits, but last year telehealth counted for 49% of all Medicaid mental health visits. Although not fully replacing in-person visits, telehealth for mental health services also saw increased usage among minority populations.
American Medical Association
The increase in telehealth services for mental health has become a lifeline for patients suffering from chronic conditions, as well as helped independent physician practices remain secure financially. The AMA details the advancements in mental health services offered by telehealth.
A recent survey from the Bipartisan Policy Center (BPC) revealed that a lack of broadband connectivity remains a barrier to telehealth access, particularly for rural and elderly Americans. Although 9 in 10 respondents were satisfied with the quality of their telehealth visit, 42% of adults over the age of 65 said that high-speed internet access remains an obstacle for care.