After pandemic, telemedicine continues broadening behavioral health care access

Method is being ‘integrated with the regular standard of care,’ official says
More than a third of behavioral health care is now provided remotely through "telehealth" or "telemedicine" services
Published: Sep. 15, 2023 at 6:10 PM CDT|Updated: Sep. 15, 2023 at 6:20 PM CDT
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JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (KFVS) - A recent survey found that 38 percent of behavioral health patients prefer telehealth visits to in-person visits.

“As the pandemic has come down and the public health emergency is now over,” said Capt. Heather Dimeris, director for the office for the advancement of telehealth. “We’ve seen that telehealth is still being utilized as it’s integrated with the regular standard of care and our in-person visits.”

Telehealth, also referred to as “telemedicine,” is a system that allows physicians to meet with patients via remote methods such as phone or video conference.

According to the Journal of the American Medical Association, 88.1 percent of facilities offered telehealth services in September 2022 compared with only 39.4 percent of facilities in April 2019.

Dr. Arpit Aggarwal, MD, is a child and adolescent psychologist at the University of Missouri’s health system.

He said that behavioral health care in particular can be provided just as well online, in most cases.

“If someone is having a serious mental health condition,” Aggarwal said. “In that case, an in-person provider is recommended. But for most mild-to-moderate behavioral health concerns, – telehealth is conducive.”

Importantly, providing behavioral health care remotely allows more patients to avoid a perceived stigma around mental health issues.

“It improves access to care for some patients that otherwise wouldn’t go if they were worried about the stigma of going to an in person appointment,” Dimeris said.

Patients who want to explore options available can check out for comprehensive information about the programs.

They can also check with their health insurance company to see what options are available under their plan.