Research Update
Behavioral Health Provider Experiences with Telehealth in Michigan during COVID-19
Project Background
Telehealth is β€œthe use of electronic information and telecommunication technologies to support long-distance clinical healthcare, patient and professional health-related education, public health and health administration.” A variety of services can be provided via telehealth, such as general wellness visits, nutrition counseling, and behavioral health services. Before the coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, telehealth services were widely underutilized despite the proliferation of Internet-enabled telecommunications technology. However, in March 2020, the federal government recommended the use of telehealth services to mitigate public health risks associated with COVID-19. Between late July and mid-August 2020, a team at the University of Michigan Behavioral Health Workforce Research Center conducted in-depth interviews with 31 Michigan behavioral health providers across the state providing telebehavioral health services.
Analysis of the key informant interviews produced the following primary themes:
  • Use of telebehavioral health has increased since March 2020.
  • State policies to expand telehealth services positively impacted continuation of behavioral health service delivery.
  • Telebehavioral health expansion improved access to mental health care.
  • Quality of care and patient satisfaction with telebehavioral health services may vary depending on service type.
  • Barriers to effective telebehavioral health provision still exist.
  • Providers were supportive of continued telebehavioral expansion.
Angela J. Beck, PhD, MPH
Cory Page, MPH, MPP

Jessica Buche, MPH, MA
Maria Gaiser, MPH
Caitlyn Wayment, MPH

Victoria Schoebel, MPH
Amanda Mauri, MPH
This project was funded by the University of Michigan Institute for Healthcare Policy and Innovation through the Policy Sprints Program.

We appreciate support from our partners at Southwest Michigan Behavioral Health and Community Health Association of Michigan. Thank you for your guidance on study design, assistance in provider recruitment, and input on final reports.
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