“Psychologists — whether they want to or not — are going to be dealing with [COVID-19]. Many of us are well positioned to help people deal with isolation and the distress associated with losing control.”
The quote above comes from Dr. David Cates, PhD, clinical psychologist and behavioral health consultant to UNMC’s Nebraska Biocontainment Unit and National Quarantine Center. Dr. Cates speaks to a key clinical concern as the COVID-19 pandemic begins to grab hold of the public psyche, but what should mental health clinicians know about the impact of COVID-19 on their professional livelihood? Many clinics are already dealing with consequences of the pandemic, from changes in available workforce to patients in quarantine.
As a member of the mental health community, we at Blueprint have some ideas for dealing with any incoming chaos felt within mental health clinics due to this pandemic. Here are two reimbursable ways to stay connected to clients/patients:
Consider telepsych services
A clinician's caseload may include the elderly, the young, or the immunocompromised. As we learn more about COVID-19, particularly its highly infectious nature and impact on vulnerable populations, the urgent need for preventative measures has become clear. Practitioners can protect their patients - and themselves - and help to limit the virus’s spread by integrating social distancing into their practice. As businesses move to remote work and universities switch to online courses, clinics are responsible for implementing preventative measures in ways that support patients, providers, and practices. For those wondering how to continue serving the needs of those clients when they are unable to leave their homes, there is a solution.
Platforms like Zoom for Healthcare or EHRs like Simple Practice and TheraNest have the capability to easily set up a video enabled conferencing option. Not only is telepsych an important clinical tool, the service is highly recommended by major insurers including CMS in this time of epidemic. If you need any assistance getting set up with a telepsych platform, please send us an email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Create more touch points with your clients
Whether or not you decide to use a telepsych service, platforms that enable remote patient monitoring can also prove to be beneficial to your clients’ wellbeing in this time of crisis. Anxieties related to COVID-19 and the impact of reduced socialization take a toll on mental health. As we change our behavior to protect physical health, it is particularly important to stay connected with patients in ways that support mental health needs. Some providers are already accustomed to using clinical assessments like the PHQ-9 in practice, but don’t have a streamlined way to administer outcome measures or mental health tracking outside of a face-to-face office visit.
For situations like these, technology services like Blueprint can provide a lightweight “check-in” for clients looking to convey important health information to their clinician. Clinicians can then track the health trends of their patients and identify those that may require more immediate services. Not only is this beneficial to patients in need, it can also help drive additional reimbursement revenue (approximately $8 per assessment) to your practice to help “steady the ship” during times of uncertainty.