Connecting Kids with Care: Telehealth for Mental Health
The preconceived prejudices and public stigma associated with behavioral health issues can negatively impact those seeking care, especially kids.
To make it easier for children to access behavioral health services and improve their patient experience, Akron Children’s implemented a telehealth program in 3 pediatrician offices using videoconferencing technology.
Although most behavioral healthcare visits still occur in person, these virtual appointments are offered in a neutral setting and create a discreet option for patients who might otherwise be reluctant to pursue treatment.
“Instead of going to an outpatient psychology or psychiatry office, patients go to their primary care location,” said Tia Buzzard, telehealth program manager. “If families run into someone they know in the office, there’s no indication they are there for behavioral health services.
“The high-definition video equipment and camera control give the behavioral health provider the ability to see nuances in a patient’s facial expressions and other subtle behaviors, such as fidgeting, so they can best assess the patient’s overall condition,” Buzzard said. “It’s almost like they are in the same room.”
Parents appreciate the benefit of being in familiar surroundings and the convenience of accessing these services in their home communities. With reduced travel time, kids spend less time away from school and other activities.
“We anticipate that this program will continue to grow,” Buzzard said. “There’s a very high demand for behavioral health services. The more we can expand into primary care offices for some of these cases, the better it is for the patients, families and health systems overall.”
Sprouting out! Expanding Our Services with New Construction Projects
At Akron Children’s Hospital, we’re dedicated to growing our services. Here’s a glance at our future additions to the community:
Ronald McDonald House – will be completed in 2018
Mansfield Health Center – will begin construction in 2018