It’s difficult to run a modest mental health practice. Besides working directly with patients, there are credentials to maintain, invoices to send out, and offices to manage. Likewise, there privacy rules to follow and marketing techniques to establish if you want to expand.
Healthcare providers underutilized telehealth for mental health treatments before the epidemic. As Covid-19 spread over the world, the telehealth business watched demand surge at a breakneck pace.
In 2020, the telehealth market size was $144.38 billion and exhibited a stellar growth of 135.2% compared to 2017-2019.
It’s not surprising that the 2021 COVID-19 Mental Health Impact Report, released by LexisNexis® Risk Solutions Health Care, confirms that mental health telehealth visits rose during the pandemic. What’s surprising is the 6,500 percent increase in a single year.
Imagine for a moment; they project the global telehealth market to rise to $636.38 billion in 2028.
While the focus on telehealth has been mainly on its utility in treating infectious diseases, there is a slew of other advances in the business that are poised to change the way many of us seek care.
Here’s where telehealth is expected to go in 2021.
Continuing Focus on Mental Health and Psychiatry
Telemedicine spent much of 2020 establishing itself as the go-to option for healthcare access, and 2021 will see similar growth. The pandemic has brought renewed attention to the importance of mental health services, particularly in telepsychiatry.
In 2020, psychotherapy services rose in the ranks, becoming the second-most popular telehealth operation in August 2020 and holding that position until December.
With 2020 behind us, many healthcare executives are asking if telepsychiatry services will continue to be in high demand in the future.
Consider the growth of telemedicine software like PsychOnline, specializing in offering tailored practice management tools to mental health clinics, therapists, and crisis centers. They provide EMR to meet any mental healthcare provider’s needs, making it easy for urgent care appointments.
Rest assured, mental health services will continue to be in high demand. Telehealth providers are also taking note. Many telehealth providers offer virtual mental health services to their patients because so many people have anxiety and despair.
For Mental Health Awareness in 2021, Mental Health America will continue to promote its Tools 2 Thrive theme. The 2 Thrive Tools provide practical strategies to enhance mental health and resiliency.
Faster Technological Advances to Meet Evolving Regulations
In the United States, telehealth companies expanded so fast during the pandemic because the US Health and Human service office eased some rules. In 2020, a slew of legislative amendments eased limitations, resulting in a rise in telemedicine availability and acceptance.
A third regulatory path is needed because healthcare cannot revert to pre-pandemic telehealth regulations, and neither can they adopt the recent changes due to the pandemic.
For instance, virtual learning and remote work were at an all-time high throughout much of 2020, and we’ll likely see similar trends in 2021. As a large portion of the population becomes remote, mental and behavioral health resources will become increasingly crucial for the workforce and students.
Likewise, the most up-to-date data encryption technology will be required to build long-term telehealth solutions to survive higher usage volumes and broader adoption. Healthcare providers must build quality evaluation into telehealth services to find secure ways to certify and qualify health professionals.
Notably, the technological advances have enabled PsychOnline to provide doctors with mental healthcare office tools without worrying about HIPAA privacy regulations.
The bottom line is that, as more people get vaccinated, the severity of the COVID pandemic may decrease. By the end of 2021, it is expected that 25-30% of the workforce will work from home several days per week.
Whether telehealth services, especially mental health services, will maintain growth under the circumstances is a question for many, including patients, policymakers, and mental health specialists. We’ll monitor telehealth, particularly its usage in mental health, hoping to answer that and other questions.