2021 was a good year for behavioral health. As more people, including big-name celebrities, speak out against the stigma surrounding it, others will likely reach out for help. A recent poll showed that roughly 25% of Americans made a new year’s resolution to improve their mental health in 2022.1 While good news, the surge in people seeking treatment can bring complications. As we enter the third year of the pandemic, healthcare leaders will continue to make further adjustments to their organizations to meet the needs of the evolving industry. From the providers who treat the illnesses to the tools that assist them, here are four trends in behavioral health for 2022 and how Cantata’s Managed Services can help.

Staff Shortage

The U.S. is seeing a drastic drop in medical workers across all fields and specialties, including behavioral health. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) reports the U.S. needs about 4.5 million additional professionals to care for the current population with mental illness and substance abuse issues.2

This is due to several factors. First, there is an overload of patients. The people of the Baby Boomer generation are now between 57 and 75, ages that typically need a lot of care and attention. On top of that, those are the ages at which people begin to retire. So, as the need for care increases, the number of physicians will start to decrease. Specifically, the pandemic has brought hardships that have encouraged people to seek out professional help in behavioral health. While great for business and the population’s mental health, it has caused psychologists to work long hours.

Second, the rate of physician burnout has been increasing even before the COVID-19 kicked open our doors. Job numbers released earlier this month showed that healthcare is among the top three industries cited in a 3% increase in the monthly “quits rate,” rising to 4.53 million last December.3 This punished those who decided to stay in the field, having to work even longer hours to cover the shifts of those who left. We all know how vital self-care is to mental health, but it is hard to take care of your own health while you are busy caring for other 50-70 hours a week.

Finally, in eleven states, including New York and California, all unvaccinated healthcare workers were fired without the choice of being tested due to a staffing shortage.4 This decision was made prior to the Omicron surge. It’s become so bad that asymptomatic COVID-positive employees are being forced to keep their jobs.

How Cantata’s Managed Services can help: We offer clients access to virtual experts in clinical and billing of both Cantata and other vendor electronic health records. These resources bring dozens of years of experience managing EHR systems, including clinical workflows, screen building, reporting, billing, and system administration, supporting your EHR environment. Our solution allows your organization to focus on using the EHR while our team configures, administers, and supports the back-end solution.

Telemedicine and Virtual Care

Telemedicine is a great way to combat the staffing shortage. By seeing patients virtually, providers can save time with each visit, see more patients, and close the practice a little earlier. It also allows them to see inside their patients’ homes and learn more about their surroundings. With wearables and mobile apps, they can continuously monitor their patients’ vitals, ensuring patient safety.

Telemedicine is popular among patients as well. According to a recent survey, 78% of patients reported they were at least ‘somewhat satisfied with their experience—42% were ‘extremely satisfied,’ and only 6% were ‘not satisfied’ or ‘extremely dissatisfied’.5 It helps address the social determinants of health as it removes all barriers to care—eliminating wait times and travel, decreasing cost, and improving accessibility.

This was incredibly productive in behavioral health. According to Matthew Boland, a clinical psychologist in Nevada, 60% of practitioners in the field now have full caseloads solely on telemedicine.6 While physically meeting with a psychologist/counselor serves as an escape for some, others feel more comfortable communicating from their own home.

How Cantata’s Managed Services can help: We work with administrators and nursing leaders to ensure technology and staff work together to deliver an improved patient experience using our best practice frameworks. Our enablement support service is designed to increase your operational performance and efficiency, resulting in lower readmission, increased confidence in the new systems, and faster time to value for the facility.

Cyber Security Threats

Although not specific to behavioral health, healthcare, in general, is one of the most targeted industries. Cyber security fell through the cracks as organizations focused their attention on the COVID-19 pandemic. Hackers took advantage of the vulnerable systems, gaining access to patients’ private records. Over 40 million patient records were compromised this past year, based on incidents reported to the federal government.7 As technology advances, so do the attacks, so whether you are an executive at a large organization or the owner of a private practice, you must ensure your information is secure.

How Cantata’s Managed Services can help: Security breaches can cripple your technical environment and hold your organization hostage. Cantata offers security planning, implementation, and support services mixed with 3rd party partnerships with leading global solutions providers to build, implement, and operate a secure and compliant environment both at your on-premise facilities and in cloud environments. Cantata offerings include security assessments, security plan development, engineering services, compliance evaluations, policy/procedure development, Disaster Recovery, and other security services.

AI and Analytics

Across all industries, including professional sports, stock exchange, retail, real estate, and of course healthcare, decisions are analytically driven. Medical workers have been using artificial intelligence to diagnose patients and analyze images more accurately, reduce prescribing and administration errors, assist physicians with care decisions, and even perform surgery, along with other tasks. It’s now making an impact on behavioral health as well.

You know how your smartphone gives you suggested words to type when you are texting someone? This is an example of how technology studies your behavior. Mobile phones can analyze the things you say and type and recognize signs of depression; smartwatches can indicate when your stress levels are too high; motion sensors can detect symptoms of anxiety such as nail biting, knuckle cracking, foot tapping, and certain facial expressions during therapy sessions; and so on. You are receiving behavioral health screening every day.

Chatbots have been implemented for some time now and are an effective way in diagnosing mental health illnesses and treating people who are struggling with them. When anyone is feeling stressed, anxious, lonely, or even suicidal, chatbots are available to talk via text, audio, or even video and give advice to people no matter the time of day. These bots analyze their words and develop person-specific responses in an effort to help the patient tackle their problem. While chatbots should not replace human psychologists, they can be a supportive lifeline in an emergency.

How Cantata’s Managed Services can help: Data Analytics is the key differentiator between dynamic, high-performing organizations in being agile in decision making and response to trends within their organization and the industry. Cantata offers a full suite of services around data services, including data warehousing, data integrations, ETL/transformations, dashboard development, KPI development, and report writing.

 

Learn more about Cantata’s Managed Services by clicking here!

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REFERENCES:

  1. “One-Quarter of Americans Intend to Improve Mental Health in 2022.” Healio, 20 Dec. 2021, https://www.healio.com/news/psychiatry/20211220/onequarter-of-americans-intend-to-improve-mental-health-in-2022.
  2. Bean, Mackenzie. “5 Stats on Physician Burnout in 2020.” Becker’s Hospital Review, 25 Jan. 2021, https://www.beckershospitalreview.com/hospital-physician-relationships/5-stats-on-physician-burnout-in-2020.html.
  3. Morse, Susan. “Healthcare Third Largest Sector Hit by Great Resignation.” Healthcare Finance News, 5 Jan. 2022, https://www.healthcarefinancenews.com/news/healthcare-second-largest-sector-hit-great-resignation.
  4. Pekruhn, Dee, and Eram Abbasi. “Vaccine Mandates by State: Who Is, Who Isn’t, and How?” Vaccine Mandates by State: Who Is, Who Isn’t, and How?, 19 Jan. 2022, https://leadingage.org/workforce/vaccine-mandates-state-who-who-isnt-and-how.
  5. Charleson, Kimberly. “Telehealth Statistics and Trends: A 2021 Report.” The Checkup, 12 Aug. 2021, https://www.singlecare.com/blog/news/telehealth-statistics/.
  6. Mandriota, Morgan, and Kendra Kubala. “Top 8 Mental Health Trends to Watch in 2022, According to Experts.” Psych Central, 3 Jan. 2022, https://psychcentral.com/health/mental-health-trends-to-watch-in-2022.
  7. Jercich, Kat. “The Biggest Healthcare Data Breaches of 2021.” Healthcare IT News, 16 Nov. 2021, https://www.healthcareitnews.com/news/biggest-healthcare-data-breaches-2021.

 

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