Telehealth increases Medicaid patient engagement with a mental health diagnosis

TUESDAY 15 Nov. 2022 (HealthDay News) — High availability of telehealth at federally qualified health centers (FQHCs) was associated with better healthcare engagement during the COVID-19 pandemic for patients enrolled in Medicaid who had a mental health diagnosis, according to a research letter online published on November 15 in JAMA network opened.

Megan B. Cole, Ph.D., of the Boston University School of Public Health, and colleagues assessed whether telecare availability at the FQHC level was associated with visit rates for 11,267 patients with mental health diagnoses (e.g., depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder ) registered with Medicaid. The analysis included data from adult patients (ages 18 to 64) enrolled in Medicaid with every baseline mental health diagnosis seen at the Community Care Cooperative, the largest FQHC-based, Medicaid-responsible healthcare organization in the United States. the United States.

The researchers found that visit rates declined in all FQHCs during the COVID-19 pandemic, although high availability of telecare was associated with a greater relative increase in visits among patients with a mental health diagnosis (incidence ratio, 2.07). ) versus a lower availability of telecare. The results were similar for specific diagnoses of depression, anxiety, stress-related or mood disorders. In addition, high availability of telecare was associated with a relative increase of 7.67 percentage points in the likelihood of a follow-up visit within 30 days of a mental health emergency room visit.

“This study suggests that care delivery models that support telehealth as part of mental health care may be associated with improved engagement among patients participating in Medicaid,” the authors write.

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