Telehealth visits can impact after-hospitalization follow-up care for mental illness
Reductions in missed appointments are significant
Telehealth visits are having a significant impact on missed appointments according to a study published in Counseling 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, i” 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 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.ii
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 seven days after discharge.
- The percentage of behavioral health inpatient discharges for which the member receive 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 National Committee for Quality Assurance (NCQA) website.
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