Kaiser Permanente, the United States’ largest managed care organization, has announced that it will expand its behavioral telehealth services through the Kaiser Foundation Health Plan, according to a recent press release.
The initiative stems from an agreement with the California Department of Managed Healthcare (DMHC) which aims to address gaps in access to behavioral health services. Telehealth has been on the rise in recent years, primarily concerning urgent care and specialist visits. But mental health care has the potential for a surge in usage.
According to surveys conducted by the DMHC, there were significant issues with access to care and information for Kaiser behavioral health patients in the past. And access to services is one of the biggest barriers to quality mental health care across the industry. Telehealth visits make it easier on patients to schedule and attend appointments with a therapist, no matter where they are.
Dr. Patrick Courneya, Chief Medical Officer of Kaiser Foundation Health Plan, spoke to the organization’s focus on improving access to behavioral health for all of its members by implementing next-generation conferencing technology:
Over the past several years, we have improved access to care, and we are continuously working hard to lead and improve not only the way mental health and wellness is provided in America today, but how we measure outcomes. Kaiser Permanente is able to offer more mental health and wellness appointments, and we are working to expand our hours and days of operation and make it easier for patients to choose or change therapists to find the best fit.
Benchmarks and standards will be set and monitored under Kaiser Permanente’s Behavioral Health Quality Program including availability monitoring and policy changes to address access issues.