Telehealth for Behavioral Healthcare: How to get started and best practices for providing care remotely

We’ve all seen the rise of telehealth in recent years, and the COVID-19 pandemic accelerated its adoption across all healthcare sectors. Telehealth is particularly valuable in behavioral healthcare, where remote care options can reduce barriers to accessing care, improve outcomes, and increase patient satisfaction.

 

Getting Started with Telehealth

When you transition from solely in-person to telehealth services, there are a few key things to keep in mind and ensure success in your telehealth services.

 

State and Federal Regulations

Regulations surrounding telehealth vary by state and payer, so it’s essential to familiarize yourself with your state’s laws and the payers you work with. This includes understanding which services can be provided via telehealth, documentation requirements, and reimbursement rates.

 

Choose A Telehealth Platform

The market is full of available telehealth platforms, so choosing one that meets your HIPAA-compliant needs is essential. Lightning Step offers a cloud-based, HIPAA-compliant platform that integrates with your existing EHR and allows for secure, real-time video sessions with patients.

 

Educate Yourself and Your Patients

Telehealth requires a different approach than in-person care, so educating yourself and your patients on how to use the technology effectively is essential. You must provide instructions to access the telehealth platform, troubleshoot common technical issues, and set expectations for telehealth appointments.

 

Comfortable and Conducive Environment

Patients may feel more comfortable in their environment during a telehealth session, but their home environment should also be conducive to the session. Ensuring your clients prepare their space to have adequate lighting, be free of distractions, and provide privacy is essential to the success of your sessions.

 

A Structured Approach

While in-person sessions have a natural flow, telehealth sessions may require a more structured approach to ensure that all necessary information is covered. Consider using an interview or assessment tool to guide sessions and ensure you meet your client’s needs.

 

Document Thoroughly

Documentation is essential in behavioral healthcare and crucial when providing telehealth services. Ensure that you document all aspects of the session, including any technical issues that may have arisen.

 

Though still new, telehealth is a valuable tool in behavioral healthcare and provides greater accessibility and care options. By familiarizing yourself with regulations, choosing a HIPAA-compliant platform, educating yourself and your patients, creating a comfortable environment, using a structured approach, and documenting thoroughly, you can provide high-quality telehealth services.