Tele-Behavioral Health: Transforming How Employers Can Help 1 in 5 Americans Get Care
By Julian Cohen, President of Teladoc Behavioral Health
Anxiety, depression, mood disorders – mental issues affect 1 in 5 adult Americans and, not coincidentally, cost businesses billions in lost productivity. Unfortunately for the millions of men and women who experience these issues, access to effective care is often the biggest hurdle. Telehealth can open new pathways to a better behavioral health care experience, and at Teladoc, we see adoption of this employer-sponsored benefit growing at unprecedented rates.
In a recent behavioral health survey conducted by PricewaterhouseCoopers, the findings calculate that American businesses shoulder more than $440 billion in costs annually related to mental illness – either of their own employees or of a family member. Part of this grand total is derived from a domino effect of chronic conditions. Depression, for example, is often associated with poor adherence to medical regimens leading to co-morbidity, according to several studies from the U.S. National Library of Medicine. Further, another study showed that for diabetics also having depression, costs for non-behavioral health services increased by $434 PMPM. Likewise non-behavioral health costs for diabetics with COPD have been shown to increase $739 PMPM.
With Teladoc, the full continuum of care can be addressed, by leveraging our core medical care services along with the behavioral health services, reducing these overall costs.
In the workplace, employers looking to manage total overhead expenses while still providing employees with valuable health care benefits are increasingly embracing the value tele-behavioral health services can bring. Looking at the behavioral health issues of those 1 in 5 Americans, we estimate there are 131 million behavioral health sessions that can be addressable each year using telehealth. This translates to millions of hours of productivity saved, and millions of dollars back in employers’ pockets.
Behavioral health is a real issue, and now solutions are available to help. Having been in this industry for more than 30 years, it’s a passion and privilege to develop new delivery methods or services that help more Americans address their mental health needs. These services that will consequently net a positive effect on the things that matter most to them in their lives – relationships with family and friends, work performance, and feeling a sense of purpose – all while reducing the overall cost of medical care.
In my experience, however, not all behavioral health issues are created equal, and as such, should not be treated the same. The Teladoc platform is unique in its depth and breadth of comprehensive tele-behavioral services delivered nationally through more than 900 providers licensed across the spectrum of psychiatrists, psychologists, clinical social workers, therapists and counselors. Through our approach to care, each individual gets unique attention and a tailored plan for the care they need; new features of the Teladoc platform customize that experience, and guide members through provider selections to make sure it’s the right fit.
For us, providing tele-behavioral health is core to the Teladoc mission to provide a better way for how people access healthcare. As we talk with partner companies, small and large, across all types of industries, we are encouraged to see the rapidly growing recognition of the potential impact this benefit can have for their employees, and their bottom lines. When we can balance widespread care with cost, that’s a win for everyone. And in my opinion, nothing can offer all of those benefits better than the promise of telehealth.
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