West Virginia treats underserved rural clients through online tools
November 10, 2017
Today’s traditional healthcare models are simply not cutting it. With a growing percentage of Americans identifying as having a diagnosable mental illness, there seems to be an increasingly worrisome uneven ratio of providers to clients. Did you know that 17% of Americans are living in rural areas? With an increasing number of patients living in rural, underserved communities, the gap in providing quality mental healthcare to these remote patients is on the incline. More than half of the 3,075 rural counties in the nation (55%) have no psychologists, psychiatrists or social workers, according to a report from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. West Virginia delegates have seen this growing need within their state, and have recently approved a telehealth bill that would expand access to mental and behavioral health care treatments in rural areas.
House Bill 2509: Quick Facts
This bill was approved on a 95-4 vote, and will now head to the West Virginia senate for another vote. West Virginia’s current state laws prohibit providers from prescribing some medications through online engagement solutions, such as oxycodone and morphine, prescriptions believed to have contributed to the state’s opioid abuse crisis. To be clear, this new bill wouldn’t lift the ban on prescribing opioids, but it does allow for more mental and behavioral health prescriptions to be delivered through online connectivity solutions. This new legislations will allow more mental health providers the ability to provide quality telemental health care, while also allowing the ability to legally prescribe mental health medication through online sessions.
The need for digital solutions explained
Why the push to allowing providers to connect with their patients online? Cabell County Delegate Matthew Rohrbach says that West Virginia has “a tremendous problem with access to mental health providers, particularly for our pediatric population.” One condition the bill primarily seeks to address is attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. Rohrbach laments, “Kids that have ADHD can be treated via telemedicine to get their Adderall and other prescriptions for such, so this is not to allow pill mills. This is really to extend for our mental health providers a way to service our clients in rural areas.” This new bill hopes to allow more providers the opportunity to offer to their clients online engagement solutions, with the hope of closing the gap in care between the underserved clients of rural populations and a diminishing number of mental health providers.
More and more providers like yourself are improving their reach through online engagement solutions. To see how easy it is to go online and how you provide care remotely, contact a WeCounsel customer success representative by calling 888-958-2885.