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High incidence of mental health disorders, lack of access to mental health professionals, and challenges associated with substance abuse are factors driving the adoption of telemental health technology-driven solutions. Rapid advances in communication technologies, digital health interests, along with regulatory pressure to improve outcomes, reduce readmissions and lower costs, are all combining to help increase the penetration and value of telehealth solutions can bring to bear as part of tools and services helping people with mental and behavioral health challenges.
Frost & Sullivan’s research, US Telemental Health Market, Forecast to 2021, finds that market revenue totalled $270.1 million in 2016 and is forecast to reach $746.6 million by 2021, representing a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 22.5%. The study provides a detailed analysis of market dynamics, including best practices, drivers, restraints, growth opportunities, competitive factors, revenue forecast, vendor ecosystem assessment, and enabling technologies.
“Many people in the U.S. live in geographic areas that are underserved by mental health professionals and could significantly benefit from telemental health services,” said Digital Health Principal Analyst Victor Camlek. “There have also been several studies and programs under the U.S. Veteran's Affairs (US VA) to utilize telemental health to serve the needs of military veterans afflicted with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). In addition, the challenges associated with substance abuse are opportunity areas ripe for telemental health service deployment.”
Although telemental health solutions provide great promises, challenges do exist, including the lack of a standard reimbursement policy and regulation disparity across states. In addition, telepsychiatric services must conform to the legal issues involved in the remote prescription of controlled substances that are associated with the federal government’s Ryan Haight Act. To succeed, telemental health players should look toward embracing strategic imperatives, such as:
- Focusing messaging on a fact base that reveals the serious supply-and-demand challenges that prevent some people from accessing professional care;
- Ensuring that technology is secure, HIPAA compliant, and easy for all stakeholders to access, manage, and deploy;
- Using telemental health solutions to address post-traumatic stress disorder;
- Developing strategies to provide a clear value proposition to state medical boards; and
- Focusing on service deployment rather than technology bells and whistles.
“The U.S. telemental healthcare market is expected to grow significantly as results continue to be documented with datapoints showing the success of the telemental program. In addition, political, regulatory, and healthcare stakeholders realize that the potential to offset a serious prevalence of mental and behavioral issues and address the shortage of mental health professionals requires multiple solutions,” noted Camlek.
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