CHICAGO — With the nation’s decades-long behavioral health crisis worsened by the COVID-19 pandemic, a collaboration between the American Medical Association (AMA), Manatt Health Strategies and a group of health care experts has identified solutions to increase access to behavioral health services through the adoption of digital technologies.

Released today in a new report, the stakeholder-specific solutions promote the incorporation of technology, such as telehealth and other digital tools, that can enhance the patient-physician relationship and increase the overall effectiveness of behavioral health integration (BHI). The accelerated adoption of BHI is essential to reaching more individuals in need of behavioral health treatment and solving the nation’s growing behavioral health crisis, according to the report.

“The demand for behavioral health services is significant and rising, but so is the potential for digital technology to support the integrated delivery of physical and behavioral health services,” said AMA President Gerald Harmon, M.D. “The AMA is committed to accessible and equitable treatment for behavioral and physical health needs, and appropriate use of digital health technology can drive behavioral health integration, particularly at time of increased psychological distress and trauma.”

To further drive adoption of digitally enabled BHI, the report emphasizes the importance of demonstrating the value generated by these digital tools for providers, patients, and society at large. The value framework described in the AMA’s Return on Health report is a useful tool that can be used to achieve this aim.

The new report builds on the AMA’s ongoing commitment to accelerating BHI adoption in primary care practices by working alongside the members of the BHI Collaborative to provide enhanced support and evidence-based resources. Physician practices and health systems can also access additional guidance on optimizing and sustaining telehealth at their organizations through AMA’s Telehealth Immersion Program.

To ensure the solutions outlined in the report are adopted, the AMA will continue to engage payers, policy makers, patients, and other key stakeholders to overcome critical barriers to care and help combat the nation’s growing behavioral health crisis. This includes efforts on Capitol Hill to identify solutions for improving access to behavioral health care for patients.


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About the American Medical Association

The American Medical Association is the physicians’ powerful ally in patient care. As the only medical association that convenes 190+ state and specialty medical societies and other critical stakeholders, the AMA represents physicians with a unified voice to all key players in health care.  The AMA leverages its strength by removing the obstacles that interfere with patient care, leading the charge to prevent chronic disease and confront public health crises and, driving the future of medicine to tackle the biggest challenges in health care.