Two-thirds of Americans want asynchronous telehealth to be a viable option for receiving mental health treatment—those were the findings from a survey conducted earlier this year by Hims & Hers that dove into telehealth legislation and the need for policy change. About 67 percent of those surveyed said they’re in favor of legislation that expands access to asynchronous telehealth treatment, while 60 percent of respondents also said accessing care is a problem.
“Patients want to receive care in the way that works best for them, and this is increasingly a combination of telehealth support via synchronous real-time video consultation and asynchronous interactions, as well as in-person care between providers and patients,” said Galen Alexander, director of public affairs at Hims & Hers.
“Telehealth, both synchronous and asynchronous, can help address some of the mental health crises our country is facing. Based on this representative survey, Americans want to be in control of their care and would like to see legislators allow for different modes of receiving care.”
According to recent studies done earlier this year, more than half of adults who have a mental illness chose to bypass treatment, making up more than 27 million adults in the U.S. The percentage of adults with a mental illness who reported an unmet need for treatment has also increased every year since 2011. In 2019, about 25 percent of adults with a mental illness reported an unmet need for treatment, while rates of substance abuse are also increasing for both youth and adults.
Why the opposition to seeking care for mental health? Often, patients either don’t know where to turn for support, or they’re nervous about stigma and are wary of face-to-face interactions. That’s why it’s no surprise the desire for asynchronous telehealth is growing—this care modality is a viable option for many patients looking to have an open, honest, and detailed conversation about their mental health needs from the comfort of their own home. Asynchronous care for mental health not only addresses major gaps in access and long wait-times for consumers, but also often begins the patient journey to finding the right type of mental health support and treatment they need.
How popular is asynchronous telehealth in addressing mental health needs?
Bright.md’s asynchronous solution includes clinical interviews to diagnose and treat hundreds of conditions—and the fastest-growing in use among our customers is our behavioral health interview, which helps treat anxiety, depression, and stress. This module continues to grow in usage each year, making it now our fifth most-used module by patients.
Not to mention, we’re also seeing “anxiety/depression” as the fourth most-common symptom searched by those looking for care through our digital front door solution, Navigate. The search term “mental health” is also within the top 10 conditions patients search and seek care for with Navigate.
As a result, many of our health system partners offer treatment for mental health through Bright.md while simultaneously meeting patient demand for these types of services. Care access is better enabled through our solution; in fact, 25 percent of patient users who completed Bright.md’s asynchronous interview for anxiety, depression or stress at one health system said they “would have done nothing” had they not had access to Bright.md.
Finding mental health treatment through Bright.md
Bright.md’s behavioral health module supports the diagnosis and treatment of a variety of mental health needs, including major depressive disorder, generalized anxiety disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, and encounters for mental health/behavioral health screening examination in patients 25 to 64 years of age. Treatment options include SSRIs, SNRIs, sleep aids, a referral to medication management, and a referral for therapy or counseling.
The solution works by first guiding the patient through a personalized clinical interview process to determine core complaints. From there, a measurement of patient responses is added to the chart note to help with diagnosis and inform proper treatment. This information is also added to the patient’s record. Patients then go on to report additional symptoms and social history, with questions that cover functional assessment, patient management of symptoms, and relevant social determinants of health.
Family and social history questions help parse out contributing factors for the condition, as well as psychiatric and other medical comorbidities. History of mental health diagnosis and treatment is also gathered, along with treatment effectiveness and patient willingness to participate or comply with different treatment modalities.
Lastly, after answering questions related to medication allergies and any other medical conditions, patients complete the interview and a provider reviews the full chart note, diagnosis, and treatment plan. Within minutes, patients receive their After-Visit Summary from the physician, which includes a treatment plan, prescription instructions, and referral to medication management and/or therapy if needed. As a note, pregnant, postpartum, and breastfeeding patients will not receive pharmacologic treatment through the interview; instead, these patients would be given a referral to behavioral health or primary care.
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