The Virtual Care Insider

Mental Health & Virtual Care — What You Can Do

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Uzi Marte

Uzi Marte
Regulatory Affairs Specialist
July 29, 2019

Let’s start by stating the obvious: no one person is going to solve our country’s mental health crisis. I can’t do it, and neither can Zipnosis. And yet, if there is a chance we can help, shouldn’t we try? 

As referenced in Jon’s recent vlog “Down the Rabbit Hole of Regulation,” the regulations in place meant to keep patients safe may actually be doing more harm than good. So how do we begin to solve this seemingly unsolvable crisis? 

Well follow me down the *ahem* rabbit hole and let’s talk about exactly that.

First and foremost, we need to pool  our collective knowledge and resources to standardize mental health regulations. While we grant that not every regulation can or should be standardized, we should  agree that by leveraging a resource like telemedicine in the fight against the country’s mental health crisis could meaningfully improve access to care, regardless of zip code.

Zip Culture

Uziel Marte, Regulatory Affairs Specialist, discusses telemedicine regulation with Mike Berger, Sr Customer Success Manager.

Issues like licensure, controlled substance prescribing, and reimbursement only begin to scratch the surface of the obstacles standing in the way of progress. But that’s why we have to start small and start local, as some of the most pressing obstacles can be found and solved at the state level. 

Zipnosis believes that establishing a framework among neighboring states has the potential to create a domino effect that, with enough buy-in and collective engagement, can be used to affect national change. Change starts with one…or more accurately, with two. We want to help you on this journey. We are stepping forward to aid in facilitating conversations, convening meetings with stakeholders and subject matter experts, and in helping develop the language and policies presented to state legislatures and regulatory agencies.

So let’s get specific:

Let’s start by identifying a single, tangible issue to address. Let’s address adolescent access to mental healthcare. Why? According to the Department of Health and Human Services, in 2016, significantly less than half of the over 3 million adolescents experiencing depression received any treatment.  

The reasons for this gap are, of course, myriad, but access to care and a shortage of providers is most certainly high among them. So what do we do? It seems to me we need to address licensure, and the ways we can activate special telemedicine licenses to begin filling these gaps with willing providers. If we can make it easier for healthcare professionals to become appropriately licensed to use telemedicine, we are creating a very real avenue for addressing provider shortage and improving access to a vulnerable adolescent populations. 

Want to help us address issues in adolescent access to telemental healthcare? Here’s how:

  • Reach out to Zipnosis. More specifically, to me, Uzi Marte, at Let’s talk about next steps and how we can turn discussion into action.

  • If you or someone you know are subject matter experts in mental health issues and, in particular, mental health regulations, help us by connecting us with them! The only way we can create an actionable framework is with the knowledge and advice of mental health providers.

  • If you have an issue or solution different than the one we’ve proposed, feel free to reach out to us as well! Beyond what I’ve outlined above, it’s imperative we identify the next obstacle and keep the conversation alive.

  • Resources like those offered by the Center for Connected Health Policy (CCHP) as well the American Telemedicine Association (ATA) and the  Center for Telehealth and e-Health Law (CTeL) are excellent starting points to gain an understanding of the laws currently in place across the country and in your area.

Enjoy Uzi’s blog post? Check out Jon Pearce’s vlog on telemental health regulation.

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