New government requirements have pushed patient portals upon the American population. The plan behind these portals is to provide a secure website that patients can access whenever they need in order to view their medical information. It’s a good idea in theory, but in practice it’s not working out as well. People want more patient engagement from their healthcare providers, and here are the reasons why.

 

The Politicization of Patient Portals

 On the one hand, it seems like patient portals are an excellent idea. After all, technology moves ever onward, and with most medical centers moving toward electronic health records, having more online patient access should be a good thing. Unfortunately, part of the problem is a matter of politics. The highly controversial Affordable Healthcare Act, also known as Obamacare, made patient portals a requirement in healthcare and insurance. However, the high level of resistance from states in opposition combined with poor rollouts by those who were cooperating has created a mess. Instead of increasing patient engagement, the new system has wound up creating an engagement gap.

The Importance of Engagement

The problem with patient portals right now is that they are not built properly and don’t provide a good user experience. This is partially because they don’t integrate properly with electronic health records used by hospitals. That means that when you use a patient portal, you’ll probably need to repeat a lot of the same information directly to your healthcare provider because the data doesn’t get transferred properly. This decreases engagement and causes patients to take a less active role in their healthcare. Any move that can increase patient engagement, on the other hand, improves the chance of a healthy lifestyle. The more patients get involved with personal healthcare, the healthier they will be.

 

What Patients Want

To view things from a patient perspective, the healthcare process is a pretty scary thing. There are all sorts of new procedures and processes in place, and most people with the authority to do so have not taken the time to really explain these changes to the public. This makes for a less educated group of people who don’t feel like they have as much control over their own health. The average patient wants to feel like they are in good hands and wants to have a good understanding about what is going on. This is especially true of patients who are facing a serious illness – the more they engage with their provider, the safer they feel. Patient engagement has a direct impact on the quality of care given.

The new systems and their poor interface with existing electronic health records is providing a major barrier in patient engagement. Because of this, patients are not receiving the level of communication they want or need. Patients who are uninformed are less likely to care about their long-term healthcare. The best way to combat this problem is to take steps to give patients what they want: providers who are engaged, active, and able to communicate effectively with them.

We are excited to announce a new partnership with University High School, the first and only sober high school in Austin TX. With this partnership, Mentegram has become an integral component of the recovery services provided at UHS, helping students remain sober and and strong.

AAEAAQAAAAAAAATGAAAAJGVlY2JjNzcwLTM3NmItNDc2Zi05NWRiLWRlZWFjYjlhNTk3Nw

Julie McElrath, LMSW, LCDC-I

The project, which launched in December, has been in the works since the summer. Igor Holas, PhD, our Chief of Science worked with the UHS Interim Executive Director Julie McElrath, LMSW, LCDC-I to build the UHS Recovery protocol which is used by all UHS students includes prompts for a
daily recovery thought, recovery check-in as well as a willpower depletion check in the evening. In the future, the Recovery protocol may include additional instruments as well as include the students’ parents.

We are excited to see this important institution thrive in Central Texas, and we are excited to be part of their mission.

Mentegram family is bigger again. We are excited that we have found a new colleague who shares our passion and vision. Meet Karissa, our new growth manager! She is helping us grow and support our customers. We love the positive energy that is all around her and how contagious it is. Just see for your self.

Read more

How would you like to see your clients more engaged in their care? Imagine a world where your clients and patients check-in and engage with their care more than once every day. We found a way to reach that goal and it’s surprisingly easy. Read more

Sara

What is the value of Telemedicine?

Sara: “Telemedicine opens opportunities for providers to reach more patients and improve the patient experience, especially among those in remote areas, or who face mobility challenges. As the founding dean of the new Dell Medical School in Austin, Dr. S. Claiborne Johnston says, ‘the flu shouldn’t require a [face to face] doctor visit.'”

What do you hope to bring to the conference?

Sara: “I want to demonstrate our patient engagement and remote monitoring platform to health systems and tele-health vendors attending the conference. As healthcare is moving away from hospitals, clinics are acquiring private practices and adopting risk based models; it is imperative that they adjust to a new model of health care. At the same time, as tele-health becomes more prevalent, patient engagement and remote monitoring after a tele-health consultation will decrease the likelihood of a follow up visit, resulting in lower healthcare costs. Patient engagement and remote monitoring platforms can have a huge impact on the very expensive and low quality healthcare system in this country.”

What do you hope to get out of the conference?

Sara: “I hope to learn what health systems and tele-health and industry leaders are doing in the telemedicine space. I also want to identify tele-health vendor integration partner candidates.”

What is stopping us from adopting telemedicine on a broader scale?

Sara: “Collective consciousness; telemedicine has been around for many years but state policies, laws and regulations have had a huge impact on telemedicine adoption. Providers continue to answer phone calls from patients, and some employers and payers still include a nurse phone line as part of their service offerings. Payers may or may not cover tele-health services and patients may not even know whether tele-health is covered in their insurance plans. All of the players in healthcare space, as well as patients, play a role in telemedicine adoption and usage. We all lose precious time scheduling, driving, taking time off from work and being at a doctor’s office. In Texas, for example, a recent court ruling requests that all tele-health visits require an initial face to face visit. Folks with mobility issues, transportation challenges, and those residing in areas without specialists in their areas will be affected.”

What do you predict is next for the mental health/health industry?

Sara: “The shortage of providers, number of providers approaching retirement, and the growing number of folks with mental and behavioral health issues is going to force us to look at tele-psychiatry as well as patient engagement and remote patient monitoring as effective ways to meet the needs of the population and improve outcomes. Another important consideration being evaluated by both inpatient and outpatient medical providers is bringing in mental and behavioral health professionals into their staff. Chronic care conditions can be improved with psycho-social support and lifestyle choices.”

 

0d3ec34

What is the value of Telemedicine?

Igor: “Telemedicine has revolutionized the notion of how convenient, effective, and cheap health care can be. We started with eliminating the need to travel from rural locations to large cities for rudimentary care, compensating for physician shortages around the U.S. and worldwide. We’ve allowed patients to check-in with clinical staff about emergent health issues around the clock, from the convenience of their home. Now, we are moving to more systematic monitoring and connection with patients dealing with difficult issues (chronic, mental, behavioral conditions), where we can monitor their progress and ensure that they receive assistance when it is needed. This helps patients recover faster, lowers the likelihood or readmission, and greatly reduces costs to both the patient and the health plan.”

What do you hope to bring to the conference?

Igor: “As a company, we bring our mission of surrounding patients dealing with complex health issues with remote patient monitoring services; we know these services work, lower costs, and help patients recover faster. I am also excited to add my psychology perspective to medical conversations.”

 

What do you hope to get out of the conference?

tumblr_mnh0uemhCk1st5lhmo1_1280

Igor: “We see a lot of different individuals and companies in attendance who are moving health care forward in measurable ways. We are looking to be part of this conversation, further insert remote patient monitoring into the conversation, and make new connections.”

What is stopping us from adopting telemedicine on a broader scale?

Igor: “Telemedicine is finally going mainstream. For years, patients, regulators, and others worried that telemedicine would be less effective, less private and lead to medical errors. However, the lessons we have learned in the last 15 years or so clearly say that telemedicine is effective, and provides measurable benefits and costs savings. Happening now is the more novel methods of telemedicine, such as the phone-based check-in about emergent health concerns, or remote monitoring. Here, we are both tackling educating the industry and the patients.”

What is stopping us from adopting telemedicine on a broader scale?

Igor: “Telemedicine is finally going mainstream. For years, patients, regulators, and others worried that telemedicine would be less effective, less private and lead to medical errors. However, the lessons we have learned in the last 15 years or so clearly say that telemedicine is effective, and provides measurable benefits and costs savings. Happening now is the more novel methods of telemedicine, such as the phone-based check-in about emergent health concerns, or remote monitoring. Here, we are both tackling educating the industry and the patients.”

What do you predict is next for the mental health/health industry?

Igor: “I think mental health is finally realizing the value of being able to help patients remotely, especially in rural areas; with the renewed focus on mental health care and integrated care, we see more health systems with mental health staff embedded into the care continuum. The presence of social workers and counselors in hospitals not only improves access, but also opens the possibility of using more advanced telemedicine tools, not always practical in private practice. So counselors can use sophisticated EHRs, video calling, and remote monitoring, just like other departments. I anticipate that we will see rapid adoption of these tools in mental health.”

What do you do when you live in one of America’s mountainous regions and there isn’t a doctor for miles to treat a health-related emergency? Thankfully, most of us never have to worry about such a scenario, but for millions in the U.S. and worldwide, medical On The Road Againservices are far away from their homes. This alone speaks volumes to the value of tele-health, also called telemedicine, a method whereby health care, health education and public health is delivered via telecommunications technologies. This method of care has the experts at Mentegram and numerous others worldwide busy developing and perfecting it as a means of superior care administration.

Research tells us that 70% of physician visits and 40% of ER visits can be handled by a p

Screenshot_2015-03-23-16-12-01hone call (1). As you could imagine, the cost savings associated with tele-health are significant, however, the financial benefit is not the only advantage of this method of care. Clinical success has also been documented (2). Many may question therapists’ ability to accurately and appropriately administer care from a remote location, however reports show that the use of tele-health to monitor patients with chronic illnesses or large quantities of dispersed patients leads to improved care (3). When used appropriately, care providers gather excellent information, make accurate diagnoses and develop effective treatment plans (3). In 2012, 308,000 patients were treated using tele-health, with maladies ranging across both mental and physical spectra. By next year, 1.4 million patients are expected to receive care using this method (4).

In the world of mental health, where the quality and accuracy does not depend largely on physical symptoms, tele-health is of great importance. In this spirit, tele-health specialists from all over the world gather yearly for the American Tele-health Association’s (3) annual conference. There, training is offered in tele-health systems, mental health platforms are integrated into existing health care delivery systems, and the most pressing issues surrounding telemedicine are explored. Specialists in mental health, mental health IT, traditional medicine and numerous entrepreneurs gather at this conference to explore new options in the application of care using telemedicine.

On the 3-5 May, the Mentegram team is heading to Los Angeles for the ATA’s 2015 conference. We have been selected to participate in ATA’s Telemedicin

Puzzlee Investor & Strategic Summit, where we will be pitching our business plan to potential investors and health systems. Apart from presenting the Mentegram software to a roundtable of investors, strategists and advisors, we will also be joining the information exchange that is constantly happening in the tele-health space. For thousands of Americans and millions worldwide, this is a time when experts gather to explore ways to better bring care home for them.

The hope for our involvement in the conference? One day, care would be no more than an app or phone call away for people at home and abroad.


Further Reading.

  1. Pantos, George. “Telehealth and the U.S. College Population.” HPM Institute. February 2013. Web. 22 April, 2015.
  2. Conn, Joseph. “Report finds telehealth service are cost effective, clinically successful.” Modern Healthcare. 11 July, 2013. Web. 22 April, 2015.
  3. American Telehealth Association. “Telemedicine’s Impact on Healthcare Cost and Quality.” American Telehealth Association. April 2013. Web. 22 April, 2015.
  4. Herts Thomas, Beth. “Telemedicine: patient demand, cost containment drive growth. Mordern Science Network.  10 February, 2013. Web. 22 April, 2015.

Unfortunately, the current topic circulating in the news is the Germanwings disaster. The news reports are coming in daily with varying angles and commentary, most of which are taking a particularly dim view of mental health as a whole. But how should we respond?

Read more

South-By-Southwest (SXSW) is known worldwide as one of America’s biggest and grandest music and film festivals, however there is a complete side of the celebration that is alive, beaming with some of technology’s greatest minds and ideas – SXSW Interactive, a celebration Mentegram is honored to be a part of in 2015.

Read more

For many clients, therapy consists of about 15 to 20 sessions, each about 60 minutes long, all in an effort to achieve recovery goals. While 15 to 20 sessions may sound like a fair amount, those weeks of care can be as fleeting as sunny days in the middle of winter. Making those precious few sessions count is a tough job, one often riddled with client resistance and distractions. However, there are a few strategies that can make sessions more productive and fruitful.

Read more