Telehealth: A Vital Resource That Should Continue Post-Covid

Sound’s telehealth is growing rapidly, providing accessible quality behavioral health services to a community still very much concerned about Covid-19 yet still struggling with the isolation and depression and anxiety that the pandemic has created.

Though Sound continues to offer onsite services throughout its multiple locations for clients who do not have the ability or desire to participate in telehealth, it has successfully allowed more than 8,500 clients to receive the care they need during these extraordinary times.

Telehealth services have helped a wide range of clients, from those who need more intensive supportive services to its Sound Solutions clients, who typically require less intensive services.

According to Katrina Egner, Sound’s Chief Programs Officer, telehealth service hours have swelled from two hours in January 2020, just before the pandemic started, to 10,119 service hours in February 2021. Those hours equate to more than 13,375 client engagements through telehealth in February alone.

“It is truly amazing how quickly we ramped up to serve our clients through telehealth,” she states. “The investments in IT infrastructure and the way our team members quickly pivoted to this new model of care delivery played a significant role in our ability to continue providing our life saving services to the community who needed us.

Egner adds that prior to the pandemic, there were more barriers to providing telehealth offerings at community behavioral health providers, including payment structure and regulations. But the increased need for support and services to an isolated population persuaded authorities to broaden availability.

“We believe that telehealth is here to stay and we are excited to continue to offer it to the people we serve in the future. The key to this will be for the less restrictive regulations and reimbursement structure to continue.”

Sound is advocating actively around this issue to key decision makers. Sound’s President & CEO, Patrick Evans, and the Washington Council, the professional organization representing behavioral health agencies across the state of Washington, have been connecting with legislators. In January 2021, four of the region’s largest behavioral health providers, which includes Sound, announced a group called Fourfront Contributor that will focus on advocacy efforts with the state legislature for more robust telehealth investment in the year to come.

“We are very active in the community and with our legislators, in promoting the effectiveness of telehealth and for the continued support and investment in it,” says Patrick Evans, President & CEO of Sound. “Studies show that it is as effective as onsite care and, for those clients who wish to continue using it, we are committed to an ongoing investment in it.”

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