Unlike the treatment for most chronic illnesses, it is common practice for patients seeking treatment for addiction to travel outside of their geographic area. After completing treatment, many patients return to their home cities and states and even in best-case scenarios, treatment providers have struggled to maintain contact with their alumni.
There is a reason no one likes to discuss readmission rates – they are egregiously high. To the field of addiction treatment, telehealth provides the opportunity for both payer and provider to pivot toward a more strategically structured emphasis on disease maintenance and management in order to improve financial and clinical outcomes.
The patient, by way of multiple technological options, maintains the important connection to their newly formed support system. Treatment providers who embrace technology will benefit from payers who have begun to differentiate data driven results from educated guesses – readmission rates are expected to decrease which will send a strong message to the millions of underserved individuals.
What is the Advantage of Adopting Telehealth Services?
Facilities can demonstrate empirical data and cannot afford to be left behind.
With the arrival of the first generation of behavioral telehealth, we can expect to see evolving treatment standards. Health insurance payers are just beginning to define pay-for-performance success measures and are motivated to operate with fiscal efficiencies.
Reimbursements for treatment backed by empirical data makes sense (and cents) for everyone. Telehealth allows treatment providers to gather data on their alumni while offering vital recovery support which segues to the ability to demonstrate treatment outcomes (which we’ve seen in the Medicare and Medicaid models for decades).
By utilizing telehealth in our increasingly technologically savvy society, providers will be able to maintain contact and provide on-going recovery support to their patients – and payers will pay.
What will Telehealth Look Like?
In a word: success.
The outcome data derived from post-treatment patient encounters will illuminate treatment modalities that are clinically successful and those that are not, and providers will have the advantage of recalculating and adjusting their services accordingly.
The vast majority of patients will receive extended supportive care in order to successfully maintain their chronic disease. And, within a few years, the majority of addiction treatment providers will have telehealth divisions associated with their facilities to serve as solvent revenue centers which will be an essential part of their brand identity.
Last year, we witnessed a significant introduction of capital and resources into the healthcare IT space. Companies such as Google Ventures and Salesforce have set their sights on data-driven healthcare technology and the field of behavioral health has joined in the forward-thinking movement.
While maintaining its foundations of delving into histories, traumas and life experiences in order to successfully diagnose and treat addiction, the field of behavioral health more than ever is looking ahead. Behavioral telehealth is altering the course of addiction treatment. The future is now and it holds infinite promise.
Telehealth photo available from Shutterstock