The Importance of Recovery Month
The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) sponsors Recovery Month every September to educate Americans that substance use treatment and mental health services can enable those with mental and substance use disorders to live healthy and rewarding lives. 2019 is the 30th year and this year’s theme is “Join the Voices for Recovery: Together We Are Stronger.” This theme celebrates the gains made by those in recovery as well as the improvements made by those who are managing other health conditions such as hypertension, diabetes, asthma, and heart disease.
Barriers to Treatment
Many communities struggle with a shortage of specialists needed to treat substance abuse and mental health. Insufficient numbers of specialists and treatment centers close to a community means that people might not be able to be properly diagnosed and treated near their home or while in the ER, a hospital, or another facility.
Due to the chronic nature of substance use disorders, patients are advised to remain connected to clinicians and support over extended periods of time. Unfortunately, patients may skip follow-up appointments if the timing and location is inconvenient or inaccessible on a regular basis. In addition, patients may forego entering treatment as well as continuing treatment if they are fear that entering established treatment clinics may negatively impact their reputation / professional standing within the local community if they are recognized.
The Benefits of a Communication Platform
With the Synzi communication platform, a home health agency can support this patient population by enabling ease of access to specialist care and encouraging recovery. By including substance abuse or mental health specialists in a video call, an agency can address typical barriers (such as transportation, taking time off work, childcare, etc.) to aftercare by connecting patients to the help they need on a regular basis.
- Provide pre-admission care to patients to help them start treatment and ultimately reach out to an appropriate specialist and/or facility if more intensive treatment as needed
- Include family members in virtual counseling appointments
- Continue to engage patients with virtual aftercare counseling
Improving patient access to convenient care is critical in under-served communities, including those areas impacted by the opioid crisis. With Synzi, an agency can facilitate HIPAA-compliant virtual visits and messaging to patients with critical, compassionate care. Messaging can be based on the protocols of referring specialists / facilities and feature patient-centric communications such as appointment updates, drug testing reminders, and words of encouragement and support. Visiting nurses can also use the platform to access specialists on-demand in emergent care situations. Patients can use their own smartphones, tablets, or computers to receive ongoing care from the comfort of their own home, thus reducing travel costs related to follow-up treatment and addressing concerns with potentially being seen / recognized when visiting a clinic in their community. By giving patients easy access to coping skills and specialized support, home health agencies help bring needed care to patients with access issues.