Telehealth visits can impact after-hospitalization follow-up care for mental illness
Telehealth visits are having a significant impact on missed appointments according to a study published in Counselling Psychology Quarterly. Prior to transitioning to telehealth, clinicians in the study “Psychotherapy at a public hospital in the time of COVID-19: telehealth and implications for practice,1” experienced a 14.25% missed appointment rate. After transitioning to telehealth, the missed appointment rate fell to 5.63%.
Rate of missed appointments before and after transitioning to telehealth
The graph below illustrates the changes in the average rate of missed appointments (cancellations and no-show) for each of the eight clinicians in the study between the periods before and after the transition to telehealth.
“While there are a number of limitations to consider regarding this data, [which is further discussed in the study], the statistically significant reduction in missed appointments pre-and-post [digital] transition is striking,” cited in the study report.
Telehealth and telephone visits with members after a behavioral health (BH) inpatient stay meet HEDIS® criteria for the measure: Follow-up after Hospitalization for Mental Illness (FUH). With transportation being one of the barriers to after hospitalization follow-up, telehealth visits could be an ideal solution.2
The FUH HEDIS measure evaluates:
- Members (6 years and older) who were hospitalized for treatment of selected mental illness diagnoses and who had a follow-up visit with a mental health practitioner.
Two areas of importance for this HEDIS measure are:
- The percentage of behavioral health inpatient discharges for which the member received follow-up within 7 days after discharge.
- The percentage of behavioral health inpatient discharges for which the member received follow-up within 30 days after discharge.
These two consecutive follow-up appointments are paramount to positive outcomes as well as meeting this HEDIS measure. Telehealth visits can greatly increase the likelihood of keeping follow-up appointments leading to reduced numbers of rehospitalization and more favorable outcomes for these patients. To learn more about the FUH HEDIS measure, visit the NCQA website.
HEDIS® is a registered trademark of the National Committee for Quality Assurance (NCQA).
1 Counselling Psychology Quarterly. Psychotherapy at a public hospital in the time of COVID-19: telehealth and implications for practice https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/09515070.2020.1777390
2 Traveling towards disease: transportation barriers to health care access. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4265215/#:~:text=Transportation%20barriers%20are%20often%20cited,and%20thus%20poorer%20health%20outcomes
August 2021 Anthem Blue Cross Provider News - California