Virtual Care: Looking beyond the existing solutions for Mental Health.

As we look into a pandemic struck world, healthcare industry leaders are brainstorming on – how to transform the crisis made, short term problem-solving technology into sustainable, efficient and secure solutions that can drive quality and provide proactive care, which is not limited to the physical but also mental health of a patient

Today, what once seemed futuristic in healthcare (receiving medical care through a screen) has not only become a run-of-the-mill for patients but rather is a prefered choice for all sorts of medical consultations, including mental health. Particularly in this domain, HealthTech has opened a new frontier in care delivery. Mobile devices are giving the public, doctors, and researchers new ways to access help, monitor progress, and increase understanding of mental wellbeing.

However, these half-cooked telemedicine applications have kept the debate on their continued adoption alive especially with mental health practitioners since their faculty demands a much larger connection with the patients and continued care. 

Let’s take a look at how telehealth has worked for mental health clinicians and their patients. 

What a telehealth appointment looks like

A telemedicine appointment begins by logging into a dedicated app for virtual consultations, followed by booking an appointment with the preferred medical practitioner. Here, once the session starts, the patient can readily interact with the specialist, like in any other in-person visit. 

Did you know, virtual mental health practitioners have even reported that their patients feel more comfortable and at times respond better to virtual consultations than in in-person visits.

That’s correct! For them, the biggest surprise is how easily children have been able to adapt to telehealth. The specialists are even trying to get creative to revitalize the sessions for better care outcomes,  at the comfort of their homes. 

Certainly, virtual mental health care can be very simple but effective and comes with several benefits for all stakeholders.

The pros of Virtual Mental Care for patients & care providers

Convenience: Virtual care is ideal for those who have trouble with in-person appointments. Which allows them to receive treatment from anywhere, any time. 

24-hour service: Telemedicine provides round-the-clock monitoring or intervention support to the patients that can prove to be effective in the hour of need! 

Service to more people: Technology enables healthcare practitioners to extend their services to people in remote or rural locations that lack mental healthcare specialists. Moreover, these experts can provide their services in times of sudden need (e.g., following a natural disaster or terror attack). 

Anonymity: In India, seeking mental care is still a hush-hush affair and with an ideal telemedicine module, patients can seek treatment without involving anyone else. 

Care Consistency: It is observed that due to long-distance travelling or time management issues, patients often miss therapy sessions. With telemedicine, patients can easily show up for their follow up appointments being at the comfort of their homes. 

Data Collection & Survey: Unfortunately in India, lack of mental health awareness & paucity of mental health experts have prevented thousands of patients from receiving medical help. Therefore, virtual mental care is expected to be the care delivery medium in smaller towns and rural India.

Undoubtedly, healthtech has bestowed us with the possibilities of an advanced healthcare era for mental care. However, it has also raised a number of concerns that are or could be potential barriers in delivering care. Tackling these issues will not only ensure productive care practice but also a better patient satisfaction rate. 

The ideal Healthtech platform for mental healthcare should have

  • Passive symptom tracking: Mental health isn’t just about therapy and it requires constant patient behaviour and routine. An ideal mental healthcare platform will assist the care providers to monitor their patients and determining their real-time state of mind.

Pro tip: Consider any healthtech module a waste that doesn’t come with home-based vital management! 

  • Medication & follow up reminder: An ideal telemedicine platform not only connects specialists to their patients but also extends care beyond medical consultations. A telemedicine module should empower patients to take care of themselves with doctor scheduled medication and follow up reminders.  
  • Easy-to-use module designs: A user-friendly platform is the first step towards making telehealth more accessible in both urban and rural parts of India. Perhaps, as simple as a template-based module could go a long way for an ideal healthtech platform. 
  • Protection against Data Breaching: Patient data privacy & security breaches have raised some serious concerns regarding the adaptations of healthTech platforms. A healthtech platform must follow regulatory requirements under HIPAA and ensure maximum data security. 
  • Continued Care: Finally, we need a telehealth platform which gives an option to the beneficiary to connect to a doctor, which they feel comfortable with and can reach out in emergencies like anxiety attacks, just to simply objectify the need for mental health. 

HArborSays: 

India has 0.75 psychiatrists per 100,000 people and from the above discussion, it can be inferred that telepsychiatry can efficiently bridge the gap between mental health experts & patients. However, a basic telemedicine application will always put barriers to the possibilities of telepsychiatry. 

Being a mental healthcare provider, you need a platform where telemedicine takes the center stage of healthcare delivery, along with integrated EMR and diagnostic modules. 

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