Telehealth expansion supported.

NY Health System to Add Telemental Health Services to Urgent Care Platform

By Mark Melchionna

– The Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust provided NYC Health+Hospitals with a $3.9 million grant to support the addition of a telemental health service to its virtual ExpressCare platform.

The Helmsley Charitable Trust aims to improve the overall health of American citizens through the provision of financial support. NYC Health + Hospitals is a public healthcare system that serves the state of New York across 70 locations.

In 2020, NYC Health + Hospitals launched a virtual urgent care platform known as ExpressCare. The grant from the Helmsley trust will now be used to enhance the platform through the addition of tele-behavioral health services.

Specifically, NYC Health + Hospitals plans to expand ExpressCare by implementing telemental health services to treat conditions that require psychiatric support and substance abuse treatment.

Along with the NYC Department of Homeless Services, the health system will develop a tailored version of the telemental health service to treat patients at 25 homeless shelters and six mobile street outreach clinics. Further, NYC Health + Hospitals will implement and assess four behavioral health engagement strategies for the patients that are the most difficult to reach.

“This substantial Helmsley grant will help underserved New Yorkers who may be dealing with behavioral health issues that are exacerbated by their living situation,” said NYC Health + Hospitals Senior Vice President and Chief Quality Officer Eric Wei, in a press release. “The pandemic has underscored just how important it is for NYC Health + Hospitals to reach New Yorkers outside of a traditional medical setting, and we are looking forward to expanding our tele-behavioral health services.”  

In the last several years, telehealth use skyrocketed, indicating a shift in patient mindset regarding healthcare delivery priorities and concerns.

In April, the FAIR Health Monthly Telehealth Regional tracker reported that telehealth use skyrocketed in January, likely due to the prevalence of the Omicron variant. The tracker also noted that mental health conditions held a steady place as the No. 1 telehealth diagnosis overall since November 2021.

But not all patients prefer telehealth to in-person care. A study published in February found that for patients who recently had surgery, hybrid methods of care that involved both in-person and remote care were highly preferred. Researchers came to this conclusion based on survey results, which showed that the vast majority of patients reported satisfaction with the model.

Similarly, a study published in December 2021 indicated that patients battling kidney disease and clinicians treating them experienced low levels of satisfaction when using telehealth. Researchers interviewed patients and clinicians, who reported lower quality of care, difficulty using technology, and frequent absences from appointments.

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