HealthPartners Expands Mental Health Care Access through Video Visits
2,000 clinicians trained in three days across multiple areas of care
BLOOMINGTON, Minn. — HealthPartners is harnessing technology to provide critical mental health care and primary and specialty care to patients amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, while promoting patient and clinician safety. The health system trained more than 2,000 clinicians across multiple care specialties in only three days on how to use video visits to assess, serve and treat patients.
“The unprecedented and unnerving situation unfolding with COVID-19 is fueling stress and anxiety among our patients, and we need to be able to offer care and support in our hospitals and emergency room settings,” said Josh Zimmerman, M.D., senior medical director for behavioral health at HealthPartners. “At the same time, we need to manage patient flow in and out of our facilities to protect all patients and clinicians. Video visits for mental health care is an ideal solution for our current reality.”
In just one week, HealthPartners completed 2,145 video visits across all care areas; 200 were specific to mental health care. Meanwhile, there are 3,032 visits scheduled for the next week, and 850 mental health video visits within the next two weeks. HealthPartners expects these numbers to increase rapidly, as its care teams reach out to patients to offer virtual visits as an alternative to in-person care.
HealthPartners is also using video visits to offer crisis assessments and clinical services to patients with mental health needs in eight emergency departments and inpatient hospitals across western Wisconsin and Minnesota. The model allows licensed, skilled behavioral health professionals to efficiently provide services across multiple locations and cover extended hours.
Extending Video Care to Other Care Settings
In rolling out the video visits for mental health care, HealthPartners prioritized emergency rooms and hospitals. Now the health system is extending the use of video visits to other care settings to ensure that patients continue to receive mental health and addiction treatment services, while minimizing exposure to COVID-19. Examples include:
- Outpatient visits with psychiatry clinicians;
- Adult and child therapy; and
- Group therapy as part of hospitalization and intensive outpatient programming.
While video visits are being used extensively by behavioral health, the care option is being offered in all HealthPartners, Park Nicollet and TRIA clinics for primary care and specialty care services, too.
“Now is a time when our patients need us the most,” said Annie Ideker, MD, clinic medical director, HealthPartners Arden Hills Clinic. “Many of them are sick, frightened and unsure of exactly what to do. By using this type of technology, we can care for patients with COVID-19 symptoms, while also continuing to offer routine care to all of our patients.”
HealthPartners is using the Smart Phone app, Google Duo, to conduct the video visits. Front-line staff are also working to help patients download and use the app. Within the current reality of COVID-19, video visits with clinicians are a convenient and an effective option for patients, who can now schedule them by phone or online.
“Previously, we were just able to offer phone visits to patients. Adding video to remote visits provides a deeper and richer patient experience,” said Ideker. “As doctors, we read patients’ faces, and we look at their body language. These things allow us to truly connect with our patients.”
More information about video visits is available here.
HealthPartners is the largest consumer-governed, non-profit health care organization in the nation with a mission to improve health and well-being in partnership with members, patients and the community. For more information, visit healthpartners.com.