HUDSON – Residents of the area will have better access to mental health services through a new partnership at Columbia Memorial Health.
The hospital on Tuesday announced a new partnership with aptihealth, a telemedicine provider that uses technology to integrate health and behavioral services.
With the agreement, CMH patients now have instant access to virtual psychiatric care.
The partnership will enable patients to remotely access behavioral health services that are integrated into the patient’s current physical health care via the aptihealth platform.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has significantly increased the need for mental health services in our community,” said Dorothy Urschel, Columbia Memorial Health’s chief operating officer, in a statement. “This partnership with aptihealth will enable CMH to better meet this demand and help more patients improve their mental health through a truly integrated and coordinated service model that is easily accessible via smartphones and other popular electronic devices.”
The need for mental health services has increased during the pandemic, according to a report from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Between August 2020 and February 2021, the proportion of adults with recent symptoms of an anxiety or depression disorder rose from 36.4% to 41.5%, according to the report. The number of people with unmet behavioral health care needs in the United States increased 21.3% from 9.2% of Americans to 11.7% over the same period.
According to aptihealth, the integrated treatment approach has been shown to reduce the severity of symptoms by over 50%, which, according to the organization, leads to improved health outcomes and lower costs.
“The Columbia Memorial Health team has proven time and again that they are committed to keeping our communities healthy,” said Dan Pickett, CEO of aptihealth, in a statement. “It is a privilege, as a partner, to offer friends, families and neighbors quick access to comprehensive, personalized behavioral medical care. This partnership expands our patient care mission and now makes AptiHealth available through primary care providers throughout the capital region, from the North Country to the Hudson Valley. ”
The services offered by aptihealth are now available to patients at the CMH nursing home. The family doctor will coordinate with the behavioral health team at aptihealth to care for the patient in need. Anyone interested in or in need of behavioral health services should contact their GP for screening and referral.
After an initial screening, patients who require behavioral medical care are referred to aptihealth for a comprehensive online self-assessment. Patients are then matched with a licensed therapist who specializes in their area of need and together they develop a personalized, goal-oriented 90-day care plan that includes weekly teletherapy, on-demand medication management, and unlimited messaging between therapy sessions. The aptihealth platform makes it possible to track progress on a weekly basis and the dedicated care team, including the family doctor, therapist, prescriber and patient’s care manager, stays connected throughout the treatment.
The new partnership will have no impact on patient costs or access to existing personal services, said CMH spokesman Bill Van Slyke.
The service is expected to be well used as the demand for these type of services has increased, particularly in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic, he said.
“Plus, whenever we have increasing demand, it takes time to hire additional providers,” said Van Slyke. “This service eliminates those delays and enables us to ensure that patients have faster access to medical care.”
The hospital offered a range of telemedicine services to patients during the pandemic, which were widely available, Van Slyke added.
The Aptihealth website reports that more than 20% of patients have behavior-related health problems, representing over $ 300 billion in annual healthcare spending.