A year ago, trying to find patients who would agree to see their Michigan Medicine mental health provider through a video screen felt like pulling teeth. But on March 23, all non-urgent health care across the state of Michigan shut down to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Video chats and phone calls became (and remain) the only way for most patients to connect with their psychiatrists and psychologists from Michigan Medicine.
Now, a new study led by Jennifer Severe, who helped launch a test of telehealth initiatives in U-M’s outpatient psychiatry clinic, suggests that more than half of those patients will want to keep going with virtual mental health care even after the pandemic subsides. “These data suggest an opportunity to turn the experience of the pandemic into an opportunity to improve access to mental health care and improve the continuity of care. But policy and reimbursement decisions will be important,” she says.