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Using Tech to Address Behavioral Healthcare Gaps


Telehealth increases access and could reduce stigma around getting help.

Access to behavioral healthcare is limited. And not just in rural populations — nationwide. There is a shortage of specialists and stigma associated with going to see a therapist or psychiatrist, which is leading to a mental health crisis.

Inside Digital Health™ spoke with Veeneta Lakhani, senior vice president for health services at Vida Health, a virtual care company, at HLTH2019 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Lakhani explained the importance of digital health solutions and telemedicine to address the crisis.

Editor’s note: This interview has been lightly edited for style and clarity.

Veeneta Lakhani: Digital tools are absolutely fundamental to what we’re seeing now, which is a behavioral health crisis.

We have a saying that every chronic condition is a behavioral condition and it's because behavioral conditions are a lot about what happens every single day outside the doctor's office and outside the hospital. You can't treat those things as acute events — they are continuous events and you need continuous support for that.

So, digital tools are a real enabler to doing that and to providing access to what might have previously been a stigma. Getting support for behavioral health can be challenging because you have to go somewhere, and you have to find somebody. Being able to do that right from your home or right from your phone to leverage tools that help you manage your behavioral health is absolutely critical to addressing the crisis.

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