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Increase in telehealth for mental health could be ‘new normal’

Increase in telehealth for mental health could be ‘new normal’

An increase in telehealth visits for mental health could continue after the COVID-19 pandemic slows down, health experts and state lawmakers said at a virtual town hall last week.

“I’ve seen some really amazing initiatives among so many clinicians here in Illinois… to learn the technology to make sure they are able to provide services to their patients,” said Dr. Hossam Mahmoud, president of the Illinois Psychiatric Society. “It’s amazing how we’re able to continue to expand access to care in the context of COVID when so many of us cannot leave are home and cannot see our patients.”

Gov. JB Pritzker issued an executive order last month requiring health insurance companies to cover telehealth services.

Telepsychiatry is not a new practice, but Mahmoud said it has seen renewed interest in recent weeks due to the pandemic.

The expansion of telehealth services may continue well after the pandemic ends, said Sen. Sara Feigenholtz, D-Chicago, one of the lawmakers hosting the town hall. The expansion will likely be the “new normal” and it is something she said lawmakers will continue to support going forward.

“I don’t think you’re going to see the genie go back in the bottle,” Feignholtz said.


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