Rural Populations Have More No-Shows for Telehealth Behavioral Health Services

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Many living in lower-income rural populations face significant unmet social needs that can bar access to important mental health services.

Patients in rural, lower-income areas are more likely to miss an appointment for behavioral health services if it’s conducted via telehealth compared to in-person, according to new research from The percentage of missed appointments among patients who made a telehealth appointment was 17% compared to 13% among patients who made an in-person appointment, suggesting that telehealth may impact timely delivery of care and an inefficient use of health care resources, according to the study. Credit: nito – stock.adobe.com “Telehealth has generally been considered effective and is widely implemented to treat behavioral health conditions,” the study authors wrote in the article. “[But] it may have unintentionally prompted patients experiencing behavioral health challenges to miss their scheduled appointments at a rate higher than it would have been for in-person care.” According to the authors, telehealth may prompt a larger number of no-shows because: Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the use of telehealth expanded worldwide. Despite its increasing popularity—or rather its necessity during the pandemic—limited research exists to compare the impact of low-income patients in rural settings who miss telehealth versus in-person appointments at behavioral health clinics. Using data from the electronic health record (EHR), investigators aimed to answer this question by comparing…

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