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Best practice guide

Telehealth for behavioral health care
For providers Best practice guides Telehealth for behavioral health care

Developing a telebehavioral health strategy

Once you have decided that virtual behavioral health care makes sense for your practice, the next step is to create a strategic plan for How to start your Telebehavioral health service exit disclaimer icon  (video).

Creating a telehealth plan

You will have to make practical business decisions and think ahead to ensure long-term stability and success exit disclaimer icon  (video). You will need to:

  • Create a roadmap for when, how, and who will roll out new services. Review your process for managing appointments and adapt your workflow to telehealth appointments. See Digital Health Implementation Playbook Step 7: Designing the Workflow exit disclaimer icon  and Provider to Patient Visits exit disclaimer icon  template workflows for ideas.
  • Find funding to cover both short- and long-term costs and to account for insurance reimbursement delays. (Before starting a telebehavioral health program, be sure you also understand billing and reimbursement rules and timelines.) See: National TRC Webinar: The 411 on Telehealth Funding exit disclaimer icon  (video) for tips on how to get started.
  • Assess patient needs and research what behavioral health services are most needed in your area. Confirm if broadband internet is available.
  • Develop a marketing strategy. This means updating your website, advertising (online, radio, and print), email communications, and more. Given the stigma around behavioral health services, your marketing materials can help frame why mental health care is important. Describe how your practice can make it easy for patients to access this type of care.
  • Start small — introduce one new service at a time. Test new services with staff, or pilot a program with a small number of patients. After you are clear on your basic processes and financials, it will be easier to grow your services.
  • Design your approach to hiring, staff training, workflows, infrastructure and IT needs, and patient communication.

Tip: Screen patients for technology skills and communication preferences ahead of the virtual visit. As administrative staff prepare patients for their telehealth appointment, give instructions on what to expect and on the importance of finding a private area for the telehealth visit. Schedule extra time for patients to practice using the technology and to ask questions.

Evaluating your telebehavioral health program

After you have developed your telehealth plan, you will want to decide how to assess if your program is meeting its goals.

  • Develop an evaluation strategy exit disclaimer icon  for measuring patient and business impact, challenges, and areas for growth to ensure your program is sustainable over time. Monitor your services regularly and make adjustments.

More details about planning and strategy for telebehavioral health:

Last updated: March 9, 2021