By Amy Kwok, Research Assistant
The ongoing shift within the U.S. healthcare system toward digitally enabled care models presents unique opportunities to further evolve the behavioral healthcare landscape. With increased integration of technology — including digital tools for assessments, symptom tracking, clinical decision support and overall treatment delivery — it’s worth examining the multidimensional value of tele-behavioral health.
One key advantage of digital assessments, according to research, is the likelihood that patients will be more truthful when answering questions on a digital device versus answering questions verbally. These finding support the use of digital assessments in behavioral health.
Is digital behavioral healthcare clinically effective?
Evidence-based behavioral care delivered through secure video or other devices has been shown to be effective and similar in quality to face-to-face care for a variety of behavioral health conditions among adults.
Phone or video delivery can improve patient symptoms, increase patient satisfaction, enhance patient quality of life, and reinforce patient treatment adherence for conditions, such as:
Clinically substantial reductions in depression symptoms and anxiety symptoms have been evaluated in randomized controlled studies using tele-behavioral health treatment. Additionally, when virtual care is used in populations with medical comorbidities (e.g., multiple sclerosis, arthritis, cardiovascular disease), researchers have found additional clinical benefits, such as medication adherence and quality of life.
Tele-behavioral health also has the potential to improve treatment and recovery for people with substance use disorders (SUD). Several studies examining telehealth care for addiction and co-occurring mental health conditions have revealed no statistically significant difference in treatment outcomes or patient satisfaction between in-person and telephone therapy.
Are patients truthful in digital assessments?
Clinical assessments and symptom management delivered via tele-behavioral health platforms can increase levels of patient expression. Computer-administered self-assessment questionnaires, web-based self-administered health screenings, and computer-mediated interviews can solicit more truthful patient responses. When patients are truthful about how they’re feeling and the progress they’ve made, providers have the insight they need to deliver the most appropriate treatment. As research suggests, these digital formats provide a perception of invulnerability to judgment, a sense of privacy, and a straightforward interface that make people more comfortable being honest about their mental health conditions.
Tele-behavioral health has the capability to expand access to care for patients by overcoming a number of common barriers. Knowing the digital environment also lends itself to more accurate, more truthful assessment responses from patients, providers can also feel confident in their clinical direction.
Telehealth use is primarily motivated by accessibility and availability but is now also rapidly being recognized as a cost-effective form of care delivery across a wide range of clinical conditions. For behavioral care, remote delivery of conveniently accessible treatment interventions may minimize higher cost urgent or emergent medical care services as well as medical utilization. Tele-behavioral health has been demonstrated to minimize medical and psychiatric hospitalizations by more than 24 percent and promote total medical cost savings for patients with behavioral comorbidities. The use of behavioral telehealth providers in collaborative care settings has also been found to be cost-efficient for primary and post-operative treatment.
How does digital health improve quality?
In addition to providing a platform where clients can connect to their providers, technology has the unique potential to ensure quality and consistency in the delivery of care. The use of an integrated digital behavioral health platform, for example, can facilitate standardized evidence-based assessment and follow-up by measuring quality indicators such as adherence to behavioral treatment, symptom ratings, self-management behaviors, medication adherence, and side effects as appropriate. With measurement-based care, providers have a way of delivering high-quality treatment that includes a continuous feedback process to enhance both the therapeutic alliance and the clinical outcomes.
Tridiuum recognizes these essential factors that provide effective and adaptable solutions in behavioral health, primarily through measurement-based digital assessments to determine patient progress. Connect with us to learn how advanced digital tools can modernize the care workflow, streamline patient intake and improve quality outcomes.