How to Get Started in Telebehavioral Health
The type of service and staff will influence technology selection, workflows, and regulatory requirements.
Telemental health service ideas may include:
- Video Psychiatrist
- Video Nurse Practitioner
- Asynchronist Structured Interviews
- Consult-supporting PCPs
- Buprenorphine Waiver Consults
- Triage-Video and/or app
- Video Counseling
- Drug and Alcohol Treatment
- Relapse Prevention Groups
Service Setting Options: clinic-clinic, clinic-school, clinic-work, or home-home.
Care Options: video, text based, cCBT, or/and apps.
The funding source can open new options or force artificial restrictions. The most common funding sources are third party reimbursements (Private health insurances, Medicaid, Medicare) national grants, local grants, and cost reductions generated through the use of telebehavioral health.
It’s important to diversify and find more than one funding source. A consultant or mentor can help guide you on different funding sources.
- Provider Training
- Security and Privacy of data
- HIPAA security of technology/software
- Practicing only where licensed
- Evaluate the suitability of the patient/client
- Remote emergency procedures
- Inform consents specific to TMH
- Back up communication plans
- Publicly displayed credentials
- Patient/client age and identity verification
- Psychological safety verification
- Identify local emergency service provider close to the client/patient
- Provide viable referrals
Technology Best Practices
- Management oversight opportunity
- Referral management – incoming/outgoing
- Mobile accessible
- Interoperability with other electronic health records.
- Signed Business Associate Agreement from vendors consistent with HHS Sample BAA.
Technology is constantly evolving and with that, comes the need to ensure that your technology and software are operating at a high level of performance. Below are a few things to keep in mind when deciding on what is best for your preferred service setting and overall use:
- Consider requirements for both ends of the video calling
- It is better to integrate with existing systems when possible
- EMR Interoperability (Electronic Medical Records)
- Bandwidth and hardware needs
- Videos and workflows must be HIPAA-secure
- Choose technology with flexibility for growth
- Affordability and sustainability should be key deciding factors
- Select non labor-intensive options
- Preparation: Seek out mentorship and training to learn and understand the industry
- Make a business plan: Start with small achievable goals and layer new ones as you succeed at each iteration. Plan a pilot project. When successful, scale up the program. Clearly define the cost and return on investment (ROI) to share with your leadership. Consider that there are many types of telebehavioral health services that are profitable. Carefully select the pilot staff to help you resolve any unforeseen implementation obstacles. Consider the option of outsourcing telebehavioral health services to an existing company to obtain these services more quickly.
- Leadership buy in: Ensure your organization’s leadership understands the program, the pathway and the benefits at each stage of program development.