The COVID-19 crisis urged the skilled nursing facility sector to get creative with the ways in which they deliver quality healthcare. After testing out an array of solutions, there was one that stood out — and that brought about the most impressive results. This noteworthy concept is telehealth, a fairly-aged solution that has just recently made its mark in the medical industry.
By way of telemedicine, SNF residents are now able to stay up to date with their physician visits on a virtual basis, eliminating a host of travel risks and drastically improving healthcare conditions. And while medical industry leaders were once primarily focused on meeting the physical needs of their patients, they now see how telehealth can also be effective when treating mental health issues in the skilled nursing facility sector.
The Current State of Mental Health in Skilled Nursing Facilities
Patients at skilled nursing facilities and long-term health centers across the globe suffer from a number of different mental disorders; unsurprisingly, depression and anxiety are among the most common complaints. There’s endless research that ties mental health concerns with physical ailments, so it’s critical that you can’t treat one area without showing just as much attention to the other.
For quite some time, antipsychotics have been the go-to solution when it comes to treating these intangible symptoms. And unfortunately, negative outcomes are often the result. This is not to say that these types of medications aren’t without benefits, of course; they can actually be quite successful when it comes to keeping select symptoms at bay. However, many of the associated side effects, such as dizziness, constipation, nausea, and vomiting, just to name a few, can go a long way to reverse a patient’s overall health before long.
Is Telebehavioral Health a Fair Alternative for In-Person Care?
Telebehavioral health, also referred to as telemental health, is a division of telemedicine that strictly focuses on providing mental health services. By way of video conferencing technology, SNF residents are able to attend regular appointments with their mental health providers on a virtual basis. And with the ability to speak with their patients while simultaneously observing them, mental health professionals can make accurate diagnoses, prescribe medication, and provide various types of therapy when necessary.
As mental health professionals are given the range to conduct these appointments in the same manner that they would in a traditional setting, there are no measurable differences between the two. In fact, ever since these facilities have adopted telemental health as a means to tackle both minor and complex behavioral issues, patients have reportedly experienced fewer symptoms and massive improvements to their overall quality of life.
There is a dire need for skilled nursing facility leaders to dedicate more attention towards providing optimal mental health treatment within their centers. And judging by its successful track record in such a short period of time, we can all agree that telebehavioral health, though still a new concept, is the best alternative to in-person care and will likely continue to take the medical industry by storm.