December 21, 2022
Payers, policymakers, behavioral health companies, and providers are still working on rules for permanent adoption of telehealth and expanding successful telehealth programs to serve more clients and grow business. These stakeholders see the potential of telehealth to grow business while helping to meet the needs of different populations. Three intriguing use cases are psychedelic-assisted therapy; substance use disorder (SUD) treatment; and services for neurodivergent or developmental disorders such as autism spectrum disorder (ASD).
With rates of treatment-resistant depression estimated to range as high as 55%, interest in alternative treatment options is intensifying. One new treatment option that is attracting a great deal of attention and investment is psychedelic-assisted psychotherapy. Fast-tracked for approval by the Federal Drug Administration (FDA) for treating depression, psychedelic-assisted psychotherapy combines traditional talk therapy with intravenous or nasal ketamine in a monitored clinical setting.
Driven by the needs of the pandemic, psychedelic-assisted telehealth delivers treatment in the safety and comfort of the patient’s home. Providers use telehealth software to deliver therapy, screen and educate patients prior to drug administration, monitor the patient during use of the drug, and provide on-going support after treatment. They also prescribe the FDA-approved sublingual ketamine, a less biologically available form of the drug that is safe for non-clinical settings.
Some organizations bundle psychedelic-assisted therapy services into a subscription-based monthly fee, covering a set number of individual and group therapy sessions, doses of the drug, access to chat, virtual coaching, and more. Most insurance plans don’t cover psychedelic-assisted therapy, but the successes of early-adopter organizations using self-pay models is garnering industry attention.
It’s estimated that just 11% of people with substance use disorder (SUD) receive any type of specialty treatment, making the case for increased access to care more urgent than ever. During the pandemic, many behavioral health companies found that telehealth can serve substance use patients who can’t travel to a facility or who prefer the convenience of receiving treatment at home. The White House Office for National Drug Control Policy is pressing for permanent adoption of telehealth in treating substance use disorders, based on the successes of telehealth during the pandemic.
With a patient portal and telehealth software, organizations can deliver programs that increase accessibility and grow their business beyond in-patient services. Trafalgar Addiction Treatment Centers implemented OnCall’s telehealth operations solution to grow an already successful program beyond in-patient services. With capabilities such as secure instant messaging, digital therapeutic assessment sharing, video options, and self-service appointment scheduling, Trafalgar can easily and securely connect with and deliver care to patients who are remote while also streamlining administrative tasks. Trafalgar credits their telehealth implementation with transforming their business, increasing client enrollment, improving program completion rates, growing billings 250%, and improving outcomes.
In the U.S., 17% of children are diagnosed with a neurodivergent or developmental disorder such as autism spectrum disorder (ASD), attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, or cerebral palsy. For these children, and for adults diagnosed with these disorders, telehealth for behavioral health offers a much needed lifeline. From shortages of skilled providers to complex appointment logistics and the sensory overload that can occur in a clinical setting, accessing quality care can be challenging for this population.
Telehealth has proved useful in delivering care to ASD patients during the pandemic, and many organizations are opting to make it a permanent component of their ASD treatment program.
With telehealth, ASD patients can receive a much broader range of services from home, including: diagnosis, evaluation, treatments such as applied behavioral analysis (ABA), speech therapy, occupational therapy, group-based social skills therapy, standard talk therapy, and training and education. For patients, telehealth means they can receive treatment from the safety and comfort of a familiar home environment. For parents and caregivers, telehealth can deliver training and education, provide virtual therapy and support groups, and enable secure messaging to ask questions as needed. Clinicians also benefit, using telehealth tools to observe patients in a consistent and naturalistic setting and collaborate with other providers to enhance and coordinate care.
For forward-thinking behavioral health companies, telehealth provides a flexible, scalable platform on which to grow business by serving more patients across a wider range of use cases. Delivering therapy for treatment-resistant depression through telehealth-enabled psychedelic-assisted therapy. Extending substance use disorder treatment to patients outside of a clinical setting so that they can continue a recovery journey without missing work or family. Providing care and services to ASD or development-delayed patients and their caregivers for whom office visits can be disruptive and difficult to arrange. The business opportunities for telehealth are as diverse as your patient populations.