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Technology can reduce providers’ mental healthcare challenges

CHICAGO-During HIMSS Global Conference’s Behavioral Health Forum, John MacKenzie, clinical program manager and behavioral health specialist at CommonSpirit Telehealth Network, discussed how to support caregivers and patients suffering from behavioral health issues using virtual care.

“If we treated our sepsis patients like we do our behavioral health patients … we would be in jail,” MacKenzie said. “But because there’s no real standard of care and because we don’t have anybody driving quality on the frontlines today … we end up in the situation that we have.”

MacKenzie said organizations should aim to provide technological tools based on data and outcomes, such as telepsychiatry and remote behavioral health support, to improve behavioral health treatment options.

Each patient in a hospital or outpatient center is also a behavioral health patient, so all caregivers need to have psychiatric skills to treat those individuals, he said. Still, behavioral health specialists also need to know how to care for fellow providers who are experiencing mental health issues. 

“We need to focus on ensuring that the people on the frontlines, the people that are making the actual clinical decisions and the rules understand what those rules are and how to implement them,” McKenzie said. 

Additionally, technological tools need to be provided to help address these issues to ensure providers have more options to treat patients and offer data-backed feedback, he said. 

“What we can do is early identification of treatment, adjust the mindset, acknowledge the need for the cultural shift and include frontline workers in decision making,” MacKenzie said. “Part of the solution is technology.”

Rebecca Stametz will offer more detail in the HIMSS23 session “Geisinger’s Journey with Digital Whiteboards: Measuring the Impact.” It is scheduled for Thursday, April 20, at 10:15 a.m. – 10:35 a.m. CT at the North Building, Level 3, Hall B, Booth 8300-8313, Patient Engagement 365.

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