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Provider perspectives on telemental health implementation: Lessons learned during the COVID-19 pandemic and paths forward.

Lipschitz JM, Connolly SL, Van Boxtel R, Potter JR, Nixon N, Bidargaddi N. Provider perspectives on telemental health implementation: Lessons learned during the COVID-19 pandemic and paths forward. Psychological Services. 2022 Feb 24.

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After years of slow and fragmented implementation of telemental health (TMH), the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic necessitated widespread adoption. With the initial state of public health emergency behind us, we are at a decision point on whether to continue with TMH or return to a largely in-person care model. In this qualitative study, we investigated clinicians'' perspectives on advantages and disadvantages of TMH in outpatient mental healthcare as well as considerations for future implementation. We conducted 29 semistructured interviews with outpatient mental health providers. Data were analyzed using rapid qualitative analysis methodology. Advantages included increased utilization of services, improved therapeutic processes, and improved provider wellbeing. Providers, however, also noted that TMH has some disadvantages in terms of therapeutic processes and provider wellbeing, and they reported technology issues as an additional disadvantage. Overall providers reported they can provide high quality care via TMH, but indicated some patient populations and appointment types are a better fit for in-person services. Most providers preferred a hybrid model of care moving forward with reimbursement discrepancies and out-of-state licensure restrictions as barriers. They indicated that, as TMH becomes a mainstay in psychiatric care, training and professional guidelines will be important. Continued implementation of TMH alongside in-person care is likely to offer improved access and enhanced service quality when applied to the right patient populations and appointment types. Effective implementation may require policy and systems level support on equitable reimbursement rates, out-of-state licensure restrictions and professional guidelines for delivering TMH. (PsycInfo Database Record (c) 2022 APA, all rights reserved).

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