At the height of the pandemic, behavioral health companies were forced to implement technology and processes to continue caring for patients. The processes and platforms, which they continue to use, are disconnected, manual, and burdensome for providers, administrators, and patients alike. Staff continue to rely on disparate point products like their EHR, email, phone, and video conferencing tools to deliver the comprehensive mental health treatment that is greatly needed by patients. However, there are nuances to providing comprehensive behavioral health treatment that point products like video conferencing tools and manual processes do not offer. These steps include admissions and booking, care delivery, asynchronous care through files and homework, and ongoing care in alumni or aftercare programs. Although organizations can still deliver these steps, it is much harder to do so in a scalable and effective way with disconnected products and processes. Unlike point products that do only one thing at a time—and manual processes that take so much time away from client care—telehealth solutions enable providers to effectively and easily care for patients at every step of their journey.
The next three sections examine how telehealth is changing how behavioral health is delivered, and why companies need to grow their telehealth capabilities so they can not only deliver the modern experience that patients and staff expect but keep up with a growing demand for mental healthcare.
Healthcare labor costs are set to exponentially increase in 2022, even more than the average $24 billion dollars healthcare systems are paying today. A large part of this cost is due to staff spending 7% to 14% of their time on manual processes and the growing amount of administrative tasks. As a result, behavioral health companies, much like every other industry, are looking for ways to save on these labor costs without compromising care.
To reduce costs, behavioral health companies can look to automate manual tasks, standardize data entry, and integrate technology for a more efficient workforce. By automating key aspects of a care workflow, such as admissions, patient onboarding, and insurance billing, staff no longer spend time manually following up with patients via email and phone, performing redundant data entry, and sending forms and files to patients. For staff, this means more time to focus on connecting with patients, improving clinical outcomes, and increasing patient retention rates. For behavioral health companies, it means lowering administrative costs and using this newfound time to find new and innovative ways of delivering care.
Most healthcare is delivered in person with patients spending an average of 121 minutes on any one healthcare visit. The opportunity cost of this visit—or the average amount a patient would earn working 121 minutes—is roughly $43 dollars. These losses are critical for patients and the organizations providing care. Behavioral health organizations that only offer in person services are losing out on new patient acquisition, increased patient retention rates, and revenue growth. Patients expect a modern care experience and want to connect with their providers through instant message, video calls, virtual assignments, and more. They also don’t want to spend their days traveling to appointments, finding childcare, or missing work.
In delivering the modern experience that patients expect, behavioral health companies can increase accessibility to their services and enhance retention rates because treatment is easy to find, comply with, and complete. Innovative virtual services enable behavioral health companies to meet patients where they are with the care that suits them. This gives companies a competitive edge, helping them show the value of virtual care, boost retention, and drive higher revenue growth.
There has been a surge in demand for telemedicine, up 74 percent since 2020. With patient demand rising every day, behavioral health companies have the opportunity to develop new revenue streams to grow their organizations with telehealth. Now, companies can evolve their virtual services beyond a simple video call to include virtual intensive outpatient programs with features such as group virtual therapy, subscription programs, and patient-led virtual content services. Patients across state lines, who seek unique treatment, or patients looking for aftercare programs can now get the same, if not better care and experiences, through virtual treatment that fits their lifestyle. If approximately 24 percent of in person care can be delivered digitally, then adding telehealth to their healthcare delivery model is a no-brainer for healthcare leaders looking to scale their behavioral health company and thrive in a digital world.
Behavioral health companies who continue to equip providers and administrators with disconnected platforms will only continue experiencing discontinuity, a lack of connection to their clients, and more burnout as a result of disorganization. Because of this, organizations should look to invest in comprehensive telehealth solutions that maximize efficiency and engage patients in new ways to improve healthcare outcomes and scale their operations for better business in the future.