Telebehavioral Health Promotes Access to Subspecialties of Care

Remote providers offer clinical teams an extension of care

Integrating Remote Specialist Into Clinical Teams

Leaders of behavioral health organizations, like
leaders in other industries, are often trying their
best to do more with less. A growing demand
for behavioral health care creates an even more
delicate environment, as organizations manage
provider shortages, extended wait times and less
patient capacity while reconciling their passion for
offering treatment when and where it is needed.

These all-too-common challenges are some
of the top reasons why telebehavioral health
partnerships have become so valued by clinical
teams and behavioral health leaders.

One of the most critical benefits of a
telebehavioral health partnership, though, is its
ability to allow a behavioral health organization
to introduce specialized treatment to patients
that might not otherwise be available in their
immediate area.

Any organization navigating the needs
assessment phase of the CCBHC designation
process is familiar with varied subspecialties
that could be beneficial to a behavioral health
organization, from adolescent psychiatry to
culturally-competent providers to forensic
psychiatrists with legal expertise. The needs of
every community are different.

By partnering with an organization offering
remote providers with expertise in any number
of subspecialties, behavioral health organizations
have the opportunity to better meet their patients
(and the very specific needs of their patients) right
where they are — regardless of geography.

Telebehavioral health partnerships, like those offered by innovaTel, help organizations relieve patient capacity issues, reduce wait times and — overall — improve access to care.

Extending Care with Expanded Subspecialties

Statistics indicate 1 in 5 children are impacted by
mental health disorders in the U.S. And a recent
report by the American Academy of Pediatrics
revealed that mental health disorders in children
now more commonly cause impairment and
limitations than physical conditions.

But gaining access to specialized treatment
offered by a child or adolescent psychiatrist is a
significant challenge for many, due in large part
to wait times and geography.

The American Academy of Child and Adolescent
Psychiatry is calling the nationwide shortage
of child and adolescent psychiatrists “severe.” A
workforce map detailing the national availability
of child and adolescent psychiatrists throughout
the country illustrates the crisis in vivid detail2, as
most of the map indicates a complete absence
of these types of specialized providers.

With a lack of incoming specialists (current
average age is 52), and just 14 child and
adolescent psychiatrists available per 100,000
children in the U.S., primary care providers,
community organizations and schools are in
need of alternate solution.

Adolescents, when treated by providers without
the proper, specialized qualifications, may be
misdiagnosed3. A recent report in The New York
Times revealed that Black and Native Hawaiian
youth primarily living below the poverty line were
more often diagnosed with disruptive behavioral
disorders as compared to their white peers.

A social and cultural understanding, coupled
with specialized clinical training and experience
in treating adolescent youth, allows for a more
informed diagnosis and a more informed
treatment plan. Telebehavioral health
partnerships facilitate more positive outcomes by
placing highly-qualified, specialized providers in
areas of great need.

Scarce Care


Child and Adolescent Psychiatrists in the U.S.


Children in the U.S.

Telebehavioral Health Reduces Wait Times

Children’s Wisconsin had a child psychiatry waitlist of more than 600 kids before partnering with innovaTel and reducing the waitlist to 0.

Understanding Challenges In An Authentic Way

No two patients are the same, as any provider or behavioral healthcare leader can attest. Any number of varied factors influence a person’s mental and physical health, from environmental to social, to cultural and beyond. It’s why certain patient populations, such as those with racial and ethnic backgrounds, those from the LGBTQ+ community, and even women in general, greatly benefit from treatment offered by providers who understand their lived experiences.

Research has shown that culturally-competent care, including providers who speak more than one language, has the ability to improve patient engagement and improve a patient’s commitment to treatment, both of which inevitably have the potential to improve outcomes.

California, for example, just enacted new laws requiring cultural competency training to specifically help support gender-affirming care

Particularly as it relates to mental health, a culturally-competent approach to care offers a better understanding of underlying influences for certain types of behaviors. And with a telebehavioral health partnership, organizations are able to not only ensure that remote providers joining their clinical teams are training in culturallycompetent care, but they’re also able to find a provider whose experience and background best aligns with the needs of a specific community

The LGBTQ+ community has its own unique issues related to mental health care. Statistics indicate LGBTQ individuals are more than twice as likely as heterosexual men and women to experience a mental health disorder in their lifetime. And, according to the American Psychiatric Association, individuals within the LGBTQ+ community are more than 2.5 times as likely to experience depression, anxiety or substance misuse

Just 8% of the lowest income communities in the U.S. have practicing mental health professionals, leaving the burden of mental health care to primary care doctors and school counselors, according to an in-depth report on culturallycompetent care by The New York Times. A lack of qualified care means people in these communities are falling through the cracks due to a misdiagnosis or an absence of care altogether.

Behavioral health providers who understand these influences by practice or lived experience, from income disparities to identity issues to deep-rooted cultural mistrust of healthcare and beyond, are better positioned to connect in an authentic way to the patients they’re treating.

Just 1 in 3 Af rican Americans with a mental illness receive treatment, despite the prevalence of mental illnesses mirroring that of the general population, according to the American Psychiatric Association

Barriers to Care

  • Cultural stigma associated with mental illness
  • Lack of trust for the health care system
  • Scarcity of providers from racial/ethnic backgrounds
  • Lack of culturally-competent providers
  • Poor insurance or no insurance

A Competency to Determine Legal Competency

Needs within the behavioral healthcare landscape, like most professional sectors, can be very specific — requiring a response from refined, experienced experts. Forensic psychiatry is one of those areas.

The demand for forensic psychiatry is expected to grow in the coming years, according to labor bureau projections. And it has been on the rise since an association was made between psychiatric disorders and the legal system.

The Bureau of Justice reports that more than 1 million inmates have at least one psychiatric condition8. And some reports estimate that up to one-quarter of the nation’s inmates have severe psychiatric disorders.

As the nation continues to rethink and reshape its relationship with crime, as it relates to prison time for certain offenses, providers with specific expertise at the intersection of psychiatry and the legal system become even more critical resources.

Forensic psychiatrists not only have to understand the legal system, they need to be able to embrace their role in it. Often, forensic psychiatrists evaluating alleged offenders for competency or other psychiatric disorders, will need to be prepared to be cross-examined should a case go to trial — a stark contrast to the clinical setting most providers have come to know

Experts with these qualities may be hard to find, particularly in areas already experiencing a general shortage of psychiatrists.

At innovaTel, our fellowship-trained, boardcertified, remote forensic psychiatrists are able to engage with patients from anywhere in the country using a secure telehealth platform, eliminating travel expenses, security clearance and geographical boundaries.

With an increased need for behavioral health care in general, and a need for expertise in subspecialties of care, telebehavioral health partnerships offer a gateway for organizations to introduce providers with specific experience to better meet the needs of the patients they are serving.