Barriers to Expanding Mental Health Telemedicine in Wyoming
CHEYENNE, Wyo. (Wyoming News Now) – Telemedicine has increased during the pandemic, but it faces many obstacles as it tries to expand into telemedicine.
Telemedicine and telemedicine in mental health are big areas to come, and thanks to COVID, mental health issues have become a crisis in Wyoming.
“We use telemedicine especially during COVID, we always use it for both direct-to-consumer visits as well as visits with patients who cannot leave their homes,” said Carol Solie, MD AND Chief Medical Officer of Banner Wyoming Medical Center.
In Wyoming, Medic-Aid covers mental health visits by telemetry. Medi-care has covered telemedicine and recently expanded to telemedicine in mental health.
But this area still needs more tele-mental health providers. Doctors, social workers, counselors and psychologists can provide these services, and they should be prepared to take the risk of starting a tele-practice without any guarantees.
“Because it couldn’t be reimbursed through a telemedicine link, a person couldn’t necessarily have a telemedicine business in a small town. To make this logistically possible if this service was not covered by insurance. We may be able to attract more providers with state coverage and with Medicare coverage.
To add to the problem, there is a lack of physical capacity and funds at the public hospital where patients with severe mental health issues are hospitalized. The limitation in recruiting staff means that their facilities are chronically full.
They can’t get patients out of the local inpatient health facility who need to go to the state. They cannot then get patients out of their emergency rooms for inpatient psychiatric care, and COVID has increased the strain on mental health.
“Cut health care services back to normal just when more patients need mental health services, due to the strains resulting from the pandemic both with employment and with substance use. “
According to Solie, lost jobs, lack of socialization and drug addiction increased overdoses by 29.9% in 2020 compared to the previous year.
Yet government cuts mean needed services are still cut, people are going without and hospitals are coping.
But with telemedicine and mental health telemedicine assuming a new role, with additional funding, hope may be on the horizon.
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