MediTelecare has proudly partnered with Slice of Healthcare for a 12-part podcast series, where we’ll share more information about MediTelecare as a company, the people behind the scenes, and the critical role telemedicine plays in today’s healthcare industry.
Our third Slice of Healthcare podcast interview (episode #166) features Dr. Sherry Friedrich, MediTelecare Chief Psychology Officer, and Vice President of Operations, Stephen Tipping. Below we recap the podcast interview, which covered our app MediTely, increased interest in nursing staff and medical providers that want their own behavioral health and support, and taking the burden of the discharge process.
Dr. Friedrich: I am a clinical psychologist by training and the Chief Psychology Officer here at MediTelecare. My background is in lifespan development. My interests really fall with working with the geriatric population, providing services and leading a team of clinicians, performing psychological testing assessments and individual therapy services, as well as working with families of aging patients who live in the skilled nursing and care communities.
Stephen: I’m the VP of Operations with MediTelecare. My background is in occupational therapy. I did that for many decades. I came to behavioral health because I was always passionate as a therapist about behavioral health, not just the physical part of therapy. I saw a great need in our community so I’m happy to be a part of MediTelecare. In my position, I oversee our operations in New England.
Dr. Friedrich: MediTely is a new project, a new service line that we are really passionate and excited about growing. MediTely evolved during the pandemic when we saw a greater need for access to behavioral health care among a number of populations. We were getting a lot of requests to provide outpatient ambulatory services to older adults who had been previously treated in a long-term care sector. There has also been increased interest by nursing staff and medical providers who were working on the front lines during the pandemic and found themselves wanting their own behavioral health and support. We developed MediTely in response to the needs of these populations. Additionally, families were finding themselves isolated from loved ones in care facilities, so through MediTely’s technology, we’ve been able to introduce service lines to these families.
Stephen: To use our app, you can either go to MediTely.com or download it from the app store. Once you sign up or log in, we have a customer service rep that will get back to you in a day or so and get you started with the platform.
Dr. Friedrich: There’s a number of ways we improve access to care. The first is just the utilization of telehealth technology. That’s huge right now because there is a shortage of mental health providers nationwide. It’s an even bigger problem that a lot of people in the fields of psychology tap their area of expertise at the age of 65, eliminating an entire population from receiving services. With telehealth, patients have easy access to care and do not have to worry about transportation. They do not have to worry about coordinating with family members. They can reach out to providers from the comfort of their homes.
Another important point to mention is that we have a great team of clinical providers who are skilled at treating aging adults with telehealth and are able to do so with geographical boundaries. We no longer have to find somebody who is working and living within a certain radius. We can really reach out to our network of providers across the country which grants us easier access and less of a wait time before the first visit.
Stephen: The only thing I would add is that it also gives the community the ability to access behavioral health via telehealth during non-business hours. If you go into a physician’s office they might only be open for a certain number of hours that don’t work for the patient. Maybe they can’t find family members to transport them during that time because they are busy with their own lives and jobs. So, this gives a little bit more flexibility for people in the community to access the necessary behavioral health that they need and deserve.
Dr. Friedrich: One of the unique things about our services in terms of access is also our care model. We have found with patients that we’re treating and working with that they need high touch. They need somebody at the other end of the technology to help them. This may be their first telehealth experience, first time using technology in this capacity, or first time seeking care. Our coordinated model puts a lot of resources in place behind the scenes so that the patient does not become overly burdened or frustrated with the technology. They can reach an actual human being that coached them through the process at the time of their first appointment to link them with the provider and make sure everything runs smoothly. I think that really improves our access when we are working with a population that might find this approach to treatment really novel and could otherwise become easily frustrated and give up.
Stephen: It’s definitely something I really enjoy about our platform. A lot of people struggle with technology and us having the ability to help them navigate it is going to help decrease their stress and anxiety. Many people are coming to us because of stress and anxiety so we do not want to add to it.
Stephen: The next logical step for our platform is the transition of care. We are going to be able to use this for our existing business, our long-term care facilities, skilled nursing facilities, and assisted living facilities. We will be able to offer our patients the opportunity to continue their behavioral health services with us when they get discharged back to the community. There is so much anxiety on the facility side when they are looking to discharge a patient back to the community and trying to find the necessary behavioral health services. Nobody wants that stress. The patients are looking to get out as fast as possible. So, we’re really happy to be able to partner with our current facilities and offer this as a way for discharged patients to have access to behavioral health once they are back in the community. Patients will not have to wait for care. We will provide a continuity of services for them. It will help to take the burden off of them.
I think it will also help the admissions process as facilities will be able to take in more patients than before because the discharge process will be less of a burden. It will decrease hospitalizations and unnecessary ER visits because we are going to provide patients with access to behavioral health immediately. With the continuity of care, patients will know someone’s following up with them shortly after discharge. It provides a softer landing as they transition back to the community. There’s no delay in services; there’s no waiting period of hoping your insurance takes this or hoping someone can fit you into their schedule.
A lot of people get discharged to the community with home healthcare. The problem is that part of the regulations for home health care is that the patient must be homebound. They can’t leave to do anything. This gives patients the ability to do behavioral health in their home so it is definitely a benefit for the patient.
Our mission for MediTelecare and MediTely is to consistently give people access to world-class conditions that will improve their quality of life. I believe this is the next step for us. This platform is going to allow us to deliver that next step. It’s really going to be groundbreaking for us to be able to follow these people in the community.
Stay tuned for our next episode on Slice of Healthcare, which goes live on [date] and can be found here.