HumanInsight Military Behavioral Health Staff Perspectives on Telehealth Following the Onset of the COVID-19 Pandemic
Rand Health Q. 2022 Jun 30;9(3):17. eCollection 2022 Jun.
The COVID-19 pandemic prompted sweeping changes to behavioral health care delivery in the Military Health System (MHS), which turned to telehealth to minimize disruptions and ensure continuity of care for service members. Four to seven months into the pandemic, MHS behavioral health staff at ten military treatment facilities shared their experiences using telehealth and their perspectives on its utility, barriers to its wider integration in the MHS, and concerns about its use in the post-pandemic future. Telehealth use was previously low across the MHS, but it increased dramatically with the onset of the pandemic. At the time they were interviewed, nearly all providers who treated service members with posttraumatic stress disorder, depression, or substance use disorders were using audio-only telehealth in some capacity. Although most were not using video telehealth, three-quarters expressed an openness to using it in the future. However, the widespread integration of telehealth in the MHS will need to include efforts to overcome technical and administrative barriers and to address provider concerns about telehealth modalities for behavioral health care delivery-for example, the need for clinical guidance on using telehealth with specific types of patients, and provider and patient orientation on using telehealth technology.
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