Telemedicine refers to the ability for healthcare providers, working from a distance using telecommunications technology, to communicate with patients, diagnose conditions, provide treatment, and discuss healthcare issues with other providers to ensure quality healthcare services are provided1. Data from the National Survey of Substance Abuse Treatment Services (N-SSATS) and the National Mental Health Services Survey (N-MHSS) shows an increase in the percentage of substance use and mental health treatment facilities providing telemedicine services between 2015 and 20202. Figure 1 shows that, in 2015, 25.7% of facilities providing substance use treatment indicated using telemedicine/ telehealth, and by 2020, the percentage increased to 58.6%3. For mental health treatment facilities, provision of telemedicine services increased from 22.2% in 2015 to 68.7% in 2020.
Figure 1: Percentage of Treatment Facilities Providing Telemedicine, United States, 2015-2020.
The COVID-19 pandemic resulted in more facilities having to adapt their services and increase their use of technology. Between 2019 and 2020, behavioral health treatment facilities experienced a sharp increase in the number of facilities providing telemedicine. The percentage of substance use treatment facilities with telemedicine services more than doubled in one year: from 27.5% in 2019 to 58.6% in 2020. For mental health facilities, this percentage increased from 38% in 2019 to 68.7%.
For more information on behavioral health treatment facilities, please visit https://www.samhsa.gov/data/
Additional information on telehealth modalities for behavioral health can be found at https://www.samhsa.gov/resource/ebp/telehealth-treatment-serious-mental-illness-substance-use-disorders