Trends in Behavioral
Health for 2022
Behavioral and mental health is no longer optional. It’s become just as valuable and vital to overall well-being as physical care. With a look towards the following year, it’s essential to see the sweeping changes that occurred in 2020 and 2021, which are likely to continue to expand in the coming year.
The rise in Virtual Care
The pandemic’s presence spurred the implementation of virtual care over the last two years, providing more people with the ability to get the medical and mental health care they need from a distance. In April of 2020, McKinsey found that telehealth utilization for outpatient care and office visits was 78 times higher than in February 2020. A follow-up survey in July of 2021 showed that telehealth utilization stabilized at 38 times the level it was before the pandemic, indicating that virtual care remains a vital and valuable tool.
Virtual care offers numerous benefits, including allowing people to remain safe at home while getting the care they need and reaching those who otherwise would not come into the office. In addition, the use of unified behavioral health EMR software and other technology has allowed mental health providers to better manage this ongoing demand for care through a virtual environment.
That allows for benefits such as these:
It provides better management of chronic conditions because patients can receive care without visiting an office. That’s beneficial to patients who dislike in-person sessions.
Patients gain more access to mental health services when they lack transportation to an office.
Providers can screen for last-minute appointments and treatments for emergent situations from a distance, providing professionals with more opportunities to quickly help when it’s needed.
Virtual healthcare most certainly will transform behavioral health in the coming years. Some experts believe telemedicine may encourage more people to receive care than ever before, opening the door to improved public mental health. In addition, virtual health will become an integrated component of wellness care to supplement in-person care.
Core to the success of this switch to virtual care is teaching people to use telehealth services. That also means that providers need to invest in the technology to enable quality management of virtual care. An investment in quality software solutions to facilitate good patient care is a vital step for today’s mental health providers.
Move Towards Acceptance of Behavioral
In 2020-21, people began to see the importance of behavioral health more readily. The pandemic helped open the public’s eyes to mental health as many struggled with anxiety, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder. Some reports indicate 4 in 10 adults reported symptoms of depression or anxiety during the pandemic. Limited interaction with family members means less opportunity to open up about feelings. Isolation led to fewer personal interactions, which impacts overall mental health. These tragedies set the stage for more care and helped individuals recognize the impact mental health can have on day-to-day life.
Mental health has long been a private topic; one many people did not speak about outside of their immediate family circle. Yet, now, there’s more opportunity for counseling and coaching thanks to telehealth. More people embrace the opportunity to reach out for psychiatric treatment recognizing its value and availability.
This trend will continue into 2022, with more people willing to seek treatment. Recognizing the importance of mental health, people will likely see a therapist or reach out for help more often and on an ongoing basis. Telehealth will play a significant role in supporting this need.
Need for More Streamlined Healthcare Management Systems
Many behavioral health providers are feeling the pinch of the labor market. This pinch has led to fewer people in the office to provide staffing support and management of patient files and other tasks. For many companies, 2022 will be the year to finally implement new technology beyond essential software to manage the patient load effectively.
Access to more robust management systems allows specialists and other providers to focus their time heavily on patients. In addition, these solutions provide better access to the hands-on tools professionals need to manage their practices.
HIPAA compliance remains critical in this time of change in the industry. New technology aims to mitigate compliance risks, allowing professionals to have more support to prevent costly fines and privacy concerns. A robust and fully integrated patient life-cycle cloud-based platform that manages compliance helps create efficiency within the organization. It also enables providers to focus more on their work than on potential missteps.
Time continues to be both valuable and scarce to behavioral specialists. Many specialists may be working from home or limiting their work hours, making the most out of available time is easier to do with a technology suite. In addition, it can help to improve efficiency with easy-to-use workflow making it possible to manage appointments and charts with ease.
It’s also critical to have an intuitive and custom-designed system responsive to the organization’s specific needs, especially as the practice bends and flexes to meet new demands.
More Tech Involvement
Software that facilitates patient care is a critical component of 2022 changes. So is utilizing data to achieve better insights. Data from numerous sources may enable access to treatment sooner,
including new approaches to spot early warning signs sooner, minimizing the number of emergent situations.
Technology can now help interpret language patterns and images posted by individuals on social media or other platforms. This technology may shed some light on the mental health trends across the region or community, or just in a specific individual’s situation. Artificial intelligence will play a significant role in this process, along with natural language processing and data science tools.
There are various ways this type of technology can foster improvement in the behavioral health industry. First, it may provide ways to gather data about changing mental health conditions. This data could provide researchers with a way to gain insight into how conditions develop over time. More so, government agencies, tech companies, and others can use this data to develop tools to help people get the support they need right away.
The role of predictive analytics may be one of the most profound changes in behavioral health treatment in the future. It may allow healthcare providers to identify risk factors better early on, potentially allowing for treatment sooner and reducing the risk of severe or chronic condition development. Ultimately, predictive analytics may even help improve patient quality and length of life as a direct result.
Predictive analytics, data collection through social media, and other facets of technology may help to improve preventative care for mental health. It allows providers to understand better how their efforts work and how to use those skills to positively impact a person’s life. It may also allow providers to better tailor care to meet the individual needs.
Growing Need to Overcome Self-Diagnosing Patients
Self-diagnosing is a constant problem for behavioral healthcare specialists. In 2022, there will be an increased need to pull people away from using search engines to determine what they are feeling and how to “fix” it. Websites and social media promise simple fixes and holistic solutions for conditions from depression to paranoia, sometimes putting people with severe mental health conditions at risk of not getting the care they need.
People turn to the internet for answers and solutions, hoping to find a more accessible or easier solution than treatment in a behavioral health setting. Unfortunately, this may hamper the benefits of tools like virtual healthcare if changes don’t occur.
To achieve this, doctors and teams in the industry need to find a way to break through to individuals to show that, above all else, a person can receive care that’s effective in a professional manner from a licensed specialist. Gaining trust and showing value can help this.
In 2022, new tools and strategies will be in use to help address this ongoing concern. For example, one goal may be to create long-term, trusting relationships between patients and providers. Using empathetic listening skills may help providers connect better to patients sooner.
Encouraging telehealth solutions in more healthcare plans and programs may help. With more providers offering this type of solution, people can quickly reach out for help from a licensed professional without feeling like they need to schedule appointments months in advance at a distant therapy center. Providing a way for people to get answers and support faster alleviates seeking help and answers independently.
Implementing Solutions through Single Platform Technology
One tool that may enable improvement across the board is a single platform solution for behavioral healthcare management. These tools help behavioral health specialists do their job and establish brand trust. They ensure patients receive better care by combining customer relationship management with electronic medical records. It also incorporates revenue cycle management and alumni management solutions to streamline all aspects of a treatment center or program and in turn this also helps boost KPI’s. These behavioral healthcare management tools help providers utilize a single tool to improve collections, manage their practice, boost efficiency, and provide one place to get all the information needed.
These solutions also help with other needs, including lead capture, improving admissions, and bettering onboarding processes to minimize costs and improve communications within treatment centers or with clients. Patient records are easier to update and access. Compliance becomes more streamlined and efficient for many organizations because of built-in solutions to minimize private data sharing.
At Sunwave, we offer a unified behavioral health software solution. Learn more about Sunwave and see a demo for yourself.