How Unified Communications can support effective talking therapies
The Government has committed to what Ministers have described as the biggest transformation of mental health care across the NHS in England in a generation
They have pledged to help more than a million extra people and invest over a billion pounds a year by 2020/21. This comes on the back of the recent report by the independent Mental Health Taskforce that called for a better resourced seven day a week service that provides the “right care at the right time and at the right quality”.
The report from the taskforce chaired by mental health charity MIND’s chief executive Paul Farmer acknowledged that in recent years there has been a significant expansion in access to psychological therapies, yet only 15% of those who need it currently get care. By 2020, new funding should increase access to evidence-based psychological therapies to reach 25% of those in need, helping 600,000 more people access care.
However, the budgetary pressures across mental healthcare trusts, the growing demand for talking therapies and the shortage of trained therapists makes achieving the anticipated goals very challenging. Some NHS Trusts are in particular focusing on how early intervention through the innovative deployment of Talking Therapies can help address the most common problems such as depression, stress, anxiety, OCD and phobias. Finding effective modes of treatment at an early stage can help deliver better patient outcomes for more of those in need and help patients avoid further deterioration that may require more intensive care at a later stage.
The challenge Trusts face is how to maximise the proportion of patient facing time available to their clinicians whilst ensuring that patients are engaged with in a manner and time that provides the best help and support. Although face-to-face engagement between patient and doctor or therapist will always be at the core of an effective care plan, the use of other forms of modern communication can also help in delivering effective and efficient support to more patients.
With people increasingly using video-calls and instant messaging as an integral part of their day-to-day lives, the opportunity now exists to include these modes of communication in delivering effective care. The ability to engage with a mental healthcare specialist via a quick video-call or via a series of instant messages can ensure that care can be provided at the points of greatest need but without the journey time or pre-ordained appointment length required for a traditional therapy session.
Paul Todd, Public Sector Lead at Outsourcery explained; “A number of our clients in mental health trusts are talking to us about how modern unified communications can augment a more traditional approach to Talking Therapies. Much can be gained from a quick video-call in terms of assessing a patient’s state of mind, or checking on progress via an exchange of texts – the preferred mode of communication for a growing proportion of the population. These options are not going to replace the importance of direct clinician to patient contact, but can offer an additional channel to reach more patients in need of support within the current budget and time constraints.
Trusts are looking at how they can provide seven day a week care but in a form that is both efficient for the organisation and meets the patients’ needs for speedy access and support.
Paul Todd, Public Sector Lead at Outsourcery
Skype for Business from Outsourcery gives the health sector the full spectrum of communication tools needed to deliver effective multi-modal communication. It enables organisations to combine voice, video, desktop sharing, conferencing, instant messaging and user presence in one user interface, which is accessible from any device, anytime, anywhere.
Todd concluded “The deployment of unified communications solutions such as Skype for Business really can underpin the commitment to delivering the right care at the right time. We see this as a real opportunity not just to achieve efficient savings but also deliver the care needed in a manner that works best for the patient. This really is an opportunity to deliver better mental healthcare outcomes to more patients.”
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