The pandemic has created a society of video chats for the main source of communication, and some workers in the mental health industry are certain this culture is here to stay. Due to hospitals only being able to accept emergency cases, close to 100% of mental health care became remote during the height of the pandemic, according to the director of ambulatory services at Ohio State Harding Hospital.
What this means for the future is that patients will be able to decide whether they would prefer in-patient consults or to receive them via telehealth. With the technology available today, patients have experienced the same level of care that they would have received as an in-patient.
Even the previous intensive outpatient program, a strict three to the four-week program at Ohio State Harding Hospital, now gets held over Zoom. Potentially there could even be a future for telemedicine due to the massive success of telehealth in the last year.
When the pandemic started, patients were wary of using telehealth services for physical conditions, and most telehealth patients made use of the services. This was illustrated in a recent study from mid-March to early May 2020 published by RAND Corp, where 53.6% opted for treatment via telehealth compared to the 43.2% of patients with a physical condition using telehealth during that same timespan.
Telehealth services have also increased the rates of patients keeping their appointments as they are easier to attend due to the flexibility of attending the meetings, however like all things, there are a couple of downfalls to the program as not all age groups fall into the demographic of being able to use Video Chats and body language has also been raised as a concern when consulting over a call instead of in person. Reliable internet and having the privacy to talk openly are also issues raised when needing to use telehealth services instead of an in-person consultation.
As the world slowly starts to go back to normal and in-patient consultations have started up again, telehealth services have proven to be a crucial and needed solution for the future. Most medical institutes will offer a range of both to allow the patient to choose what suits them best.