Geoffrey Boyce, CEO of Array Behavioral Care, explains how behavioral health care differs between in-person and telehealth care.
Telebehavioral health care gives clinicians a sense of social determinants of health that wouldn't be seen in an in-office setting, said Geoffrey Boyce, CEO of Array Behavioral Care.
Telehealth has seen increased use as the COVID-19 pandemic continues. Why is behavioral health well suited to telehealth? How does care delivery in an in-person setting differ from a telebehavioral setting?
Fortunately, the use case for telehealth for behavioral care is pretty straightforward. The primary interaction that we do is talk therapy; it is about a conversation between 2 individuals. Even when you look at the work of our psychiatrists beyond our therapists, the most important diagnostic tool that our psychiatrists or any of our clinicians have is being able to ask a question and really carefully observe the response. That lends itself extremely well to doing these sessions via video. We have been doing this for more than 20 years at this point and believe wholeheartedly in the efficacy of these services. It's been borne out by the literature and the research time and time again. One of the things that I think we've been excited about in the last couple of years has been that people are starting to look at, are there instances where engaging this way could actually be more effective than doing it live and in-person.
There are the obvious things to look at there in terms of access and kind of convenience in order to facilitate sessions, but there are some other things that are starting to come out. One is, is there something about the medium that allows the clinician and the patient to get into difficult and sensitive issues more easily, where their guard is somewhat down and they're willing to engage in the process? We're finding anecdotally and we're starting to see it more now in some of the literature that clinicians feel like they can be more efficacious earlier in the treatment process when doing it via video. The other thing that's coming into play is, you're starting to get other clinical indicators that would not be available when you're seeing patients in the office. You get sort of a window into their home; you get a sense of the cleanliness of it. Who else is there? Are there distractions? Are there others involved? You get a sense of things like nutrition and some of the social determinants of health that a lot of times clinicians wouldn't have any access to if they're seeing somebody in the office. So we're very excited about this being a really important medium for mental health for the long term.