By Christine Kern, contributing writer
MDLIVE is the first telemedicine provider to offer virtual psychiatric services in all 50 states.
Approximately 20 percent of Americans battle mental health issues each year — more than heart disease or diabetes — and it is estimated more than half of those affected may not seek treatment. In addition:
- 80 million Americans live in areas with mental health professional shortages and average wait times for in-person appointments are 30 days
- 60 percent of adults with mental illness did not receive mental health care last year
- serious mental illness costs the U.S. $193.2 billion in lost earnings per year
It should be no surprise then to realize there is a mental health crisis. As demand for psychiatric care grows and supply and access to qualified healthcare professionals shrinks, some companies are taking steps to help improve access and quality of care through the implementation of telehealth services.
According to a 2013 study conducted by clinical researchers at the University of Zurich, patients who received psychotherapy for depression via the Internet had equal or better outcomes than those receiving conventional face-to-face therapy. Furthermore, 95 percent of telehealth patients reported satisfaction with their experience compared to 91 percent of patients receiving conventional treatment.
Last year, Walgreens partnered with MDLive to offer behavioral health services as part of Walgreens Mental Health Platform, launching a campaign designed to improve resources and access to care for those most in need. The expansion included the deepening of the collaboration between Walgreens and MDLive, adding access to behavioral health services provided by Breakthrough, an MDLive company. The initial collaboration began in December 2014.
Now, MLDLIVE has become the first telemedicine provider to offer virtual psychiatric services in all 50 states. “Part of the mental health crisis in the U.S. is due to the difficulty in finding and accessing qualified mental health practitioners in urban and rural areas,” says Scott Decker, CEO of MDLIVE. “With nearly 80 million Americans living in areas experiencing a mental health professional shortage, we’re proud to be the first telemedicine provider to offer individuals across the country access to quality, convenient, private, and affordable mental healthcare.”
MDLIVE launched its virtual behavioral health services offering in November 2014 following its purchase of Breakthrough Behavioral. Since the acquisition, MDLIVE Behavioral Health has conducted nearly 50,000 virtual behavioral health consults and is now available to more than 10 million people across the country as a covered benefit through their healthcare plans, as well as direct to all consumers for the price of a copay.
“The need for virtual behavioral health is staggering,” says Larry Gleit, executive vice president and general manager of MDLIVE Behavioral Health. “More than 4,000 counties in the U.S. — at least one in every state — have a mental health professional shortage, so it’s not surprising 60 percent of adults with a mental illness did not receive mental health services in the previous year.”