Technology is helping many of us stay connected during the COVID-19 pandemic, and that’s especially true when it comes to healthcare and mental wellness.
A recent survey by the BlueCross BlueShield Association found that 75% of Americans with mental health conditions are continuing therapy services during the pandemic, largely due to the prevalence of telehealth services that enable them to connect with providers via computer or smartphone.
Insurers have helped bridge that physical divide by making telehealth more affordable and accessible. For example, Capital BlueCross, a leading insurer in central Pennsylvania and the Lehigh Valley, is offering free visits on its Virtual Care app through June 15 for members whose coverage plans include the benefit. Virtual Care offers around-the-clock medical visits, as well as psychiatric and counseling services, via smartphone, tablet, or computer.
“We know many of our members and our communities are facing stress and tremendous challenges right now, and we want to make sure we are there to help them whenever and wherever they might need it,” said Capital BlueCross CEO Todd Shamash. “For members who are reluctant or unable to leave their homes for healthcare, we want to make sure that care is coming to them.”
The use of telemedicine has surged since the summer of 2019, according to the BCBSA survey, and it has helped people stick to their appointments even while homebound. The survey found only 16% of respondents have delayed a mental health appointment during the pandemic, while about 42% have delayed other types of healthcare appointments. In addition to its Virtual Care app, Capital BlueCross also works with many participating providers and health systems to provide care through other forms of telehealth.
The stress and uncertainty created by the pandemic have undoubtedly impacted the physical and mental well-being of many Pennsylvanians, but making healthcare resources more accessible is making a difference.