Tennessee can push the envelope in mental health services by using eConsults

December 23, 2021

Chronic Disease Management

While access to mental health services in Tennessee have greatly expanded in the last several years, more can still be done through telehealth services, like eConsults, that provide cost effective solutions to optimize patient care and increase PCP efficiency.

Chronic disease management often focuses on heart disease, diabetes, cancer or obesity. Mental health doesn’t often make the list, but it should.

Not only does mental health fit the definition of a chronic disease – an illness persisting for a long time or constantly recurring – but it often occurs alongside other chronic conditions, such as cancer, COPD, heart disease and substance abuse.

While access to mental health services in Tennessee have greatly expanded in the last several years, more can still be done through telehealth services, like eConsults, that provide cost effective solutions to optimize patient care and increase PCP efficiency.

eConsults are asynchronous, provider-to-provider communication about a patient’s condition that leverages the expertise of a physician specialist. eConsults are often initiated by a PCP seeking a specialist’s expert opinion about the appropriate diagnosis or treatment for a patient.

Three significant barriers to improving mental health access and management in Tennessee standout: diagnostic resources, provider support and continuity of care – all of which telehealth directly addresses.

  • Diagnostic resources
  • Provider support
  • Continuity of care

Three significant barriers to improving mental health access and management in Tennessee standout: diagnostic resources, provider support and continuity of care – all of which telehealth directly addresses.

1. Diagnostic resources

Often patients know they don’t feel well, but cannot identify the specific symptoms of mental health concerns like anxiety or depression. Instead, patients might complain of pain, fatigue, sleep disturbances or other ambiguous symptoms.

Through an eConsult visit, a PCP can ask a specialist nuanced questions about these symptoms, determine a more concrete diagnosis and create a tailored treatment plan for their patient. PCPs and specialists can also connect on the available mental health resources for patients, such as crisis services, housing and homelessness services, peer recovery and more.