Our Telehealth Story
The winter of 2018 was filled with very cold temperatures and lots of snow. CARE had many clients unable to attend much needed appointments due to being unable to make it to the clinic or felt it was unsafe to travel to the clinic. We thought about how in addition to snowstorms, so many people in Minnesota live in places that do not have accessible mental health therapists. The problem was clear and the solution to offer telehealth services just made sense.
Over the summer of 2018, we began attending telehealth trainings and developed our first edition of our telehealth consent form for our clients. In early fall, we identified a HIPAA compliant platform for telehealth and signed the business agreement.
We used the next six months to refine our processes and by Spring of 2019, we began planning with Fairview’s Behavioral Healthcare Providers (BHP) Network and began piloting a telehealth platform to help both CARE Counseling and BHP create sustainable, scalable processes so our organizations could set aside teletherapy appointments to create opportunities for patients to get the help they need by removing barriers.
In the Summer of 2019, we trained our entire team in telehealth and this is a mandatory training since that time for all new hires at CARE. Last summer, we have 40 providers who are all trained in telehealth and have experience with this type of therapy. In the summer and fall of 2019, we continued to refine our consent form and changed our platform to Zoom which is faster, has exceptional tools to support therapy, and is beyond easy to use (even for people who find technology confusing).
CARE’s intentionality with telehealth has been so important to us and is a reflection of our ongoing mission to build a community (train and support our team) to strengthen the community. Our telehealth partnership with BHP, dedication to training our entire team over the past 10 months, and having a system that is super easy to use has set the stage for CARE to help in many ways during the COVID-19 epidemic and healthcare crisis. We are not only set up to see all of our current clients via telehealth but we are positioned to help new people of all ages who are struggling during this stressful time. We have well established, thoughtful systems and processes we want to share with other mental health providers who are new or have never done telehealth prior to COVID-19. We want our fellow mental health agencies to stay afloat and be able to adapt to this “new normal” so that as a mental health community we can continue to do our important work for everyone in need of mental health support.