How many of us feel like we are in a constant rush trying to fit everything into our busy days? Some of us are trying to fit in counseling sessions, which is even more challenging to schedule for children. At a recent forum, I noted that the number one request parents had of the behavioral health clinicians was whether they could have more late evening and weekend appointments.
While reimbursement for telehealth services varies widely making the financials for hospitals and practices not clear cut, there is no doubt about the savings in money, time, and angst for the consumer.
A widely mentioned UC Davis study published last year in March, 2017 found that for an individual consultation, the mean savings to a patient were 278 miles in driving, 4 hours in time, and $156 in direct travel costs. It must be noted that UC Davis is a tertiary center for the Sacramento and Northern California area and distances are likely much greater than the average.
Another study in the 2005-2013 period from the VA healthcare system in Vermont showed similar results with average travel savings of 145 miles and 142 min per visit. Average travel payment savings were $18, 555 per year but had increased to $63, 804 for the last year. The VA provides beneficiary travel reimbursement or “travel pay” to qualifying patients to cover their costs of traveling to medical appointments. In 2015, travel pay was projected to cost the VA $1 billion.
Arguably, the intangible aspects—dealing with traffic, taking time off from work or school and having to play catch up, feeling stressed and rushed—are equally valuable benefits that online clinician appointments provide consumers. Not forgetting, being able to get the most out of a therapy or counseling session in the quiet and comfort of your home.
A third aspect to note is that online sessions conducted in the security and privacy of your home also help eliminate feeling self-conscious about walking into a psychologist or counselor’s office. With evolving understanding and education, social stigma surrounding behavioral and mental health is decreasing but is still one of the main barriers to getting help.
So yes, telehealth is providing a means to put your kids to bed and then switch over to having a conversation with your clinician. Or, your teenager can grab dinner and then log on. No missed appointments, no rushing, no waiting rooms. Technology can make life easier.
Are you interested in exploring whether teleCounseling would work for you? Go to https://ianahealth.com/clinicians/