The use of telehealth to provide services for patients with severe mental illness (SMI) shows promise, but does not necessarily improve the rate of medication intake. It is not yet clear whether the expansion of these services will improve the quality of care.
These were among the results of a comprehensive study published Clothing network open June 27 so that the non-metropolitan count included 118,670 patients with schizophrenia or related mental disorders and / or bipolar eye disorder.
The study found that the use of telehealth services improved patient follow-up rates with healthcare professionals after hospitalization, with a “slight increase” in contact with outpatient specialized mental healthcare professionals.
“However, no significant change in drug adherence was observed and an increase in hospital admissions was observed,” the report noted.
The increase in hospital admissions does not mean that telehealth use has resulted in poor care, and ended with hospital visits, the report warns, but rather that telehealth use has allowed healthcare professionals to accurately identify and stabilize patients in acute crisis.
Why this matter
As care deliveries become more distributed, patients have more options to care outside of traditional health care systems.
However, this access to multiple care channels has created a new problem: virtual fragmentation of healthcare. Community health centers are turning to telehealth to improve their services.
Although the use of telehealth or telemedicine technology is evolving rapidly, given the impact of the epidemic, research is limited to establishing specialized mental health care and drug adherence through telehealth technology.
In rural areas, access to specialized care for patients with severe mental disorders remains a challenge, the report noted. There is currently an active debate in many states over whether there will be an epidemic-related temporary expansion of telemedicine for the care of the mentally ill.
Other digital services, including tablet use, have helped bring mental health programs to patients in rural areas.
According to another study published Clothing network openProviding a video-enabled tablet to the elderly living in rural areas has reduced visits to the emergency department and suicidal behavior.
The study, compiled in 2018, previously described the potential for the application of telemedicine in the treatment of schizophrenia and mental illness.
According to Trilliant Health Trends Analysis, which focused on U.S. telehealth use between March 2020 and November 2021, about a quarter of Americans used telehealth during COVID-19.
However, other researchers found that while therapists involved a higher percentage of clients in the lower socioeconomic status group, Medicaid patients and families were less likely to continue using telehealth after the epidemic.
The use of telehealth for behavioral health is also on the rise, according to the report. However, new digital healthcare tools offered by retailers including Amazon and Walmart, as well as device offers from Apple, Google and several startups can lead to more sophisticated and effective telehealth offers across a wide spectrum of care.