High Demand for Care, Limited Providers
Established in 2006, the Whiteside County Community Health Clinic (WCCHC) in Rock Falls, Illinois, was created to answer a long-standing need for medical, dental and behavioral healthcare among county residents. In 2018 alone, the clinic provided services to over 13,000 patients during more than 50,000 visits. As a federally qualified health center (FQHC), the clinic provides services to patients on a sliding fee scale, ensuring residents can access care regardless of their ability to pay.
By 2018, WCCHC’s behavioral healthcare team had grown to 11 therapists and one part-time psychiatrist, who served an ever-growing number of patients in need of specialized mental healthcare and medication management. Despite this high demand, the clinic’s psychiatrist stopped seeing patients, creating a pressing need to find a replacement. In-house staff were not equipped to handle complex patient needs, so the clinic was forced to refer patients elsewhere, losing thousands of dollars in patient billings to external providers.
WCCHC needed a clinician to fill a unique set of needs: someone young and energetic who could handle complex cases, engage easily with patients and staff, onboard quickly, and have the flexibility to adjust their hours as needed over time. After local recruitment efforts proved challenging, the clinic looked for an experienced telepsychiatry partner to help fill this tall order
Quality Clinicians, Quality Support
WCCHC ultimately chose Regroup, a leading provider of integrated telepsychiatry services. Regroup’s broad clinician network gave WCCHC access to a large pool of highly specialized quality clinicians. In addition, the ability to provide comprehensive support services, including deployment, IT, reimbursement and regulatory insight, made Regroup an ideal partner.
Regroup identified a psychiatrist who met all of WCCHC’s criteria, helping the clinic launch its telepsych program in just two months. Once on board, the teleclinician quickly embedded herself in operations, working closely with the on-site care team to adapt to workflows and develop care plans for patients. She was an instant hit with patients and staff alike and has become a seamless part of clinic operations.
To maximize telepsych utilization, WCCHC focused on ways to reduce the patient no-show rate and improve access to care. Clinic staff identified potential barriers to patients in need and sought to address them in a variety of ways using funding from federal grants. If transportation is preventing patients from getting to appointments, the clinic offers them gas cards to pay for fuel. If affordability is preventing patients from taking needed medications, the clinic offers them pharmacy gift cards. To accommodate patient requests for same-day and soonest-available appointments, the clinic maintains a waitlist and contacts patients as time slots become available.
WCCHC uses RegroupConnect to ensure the best possible video quality for patient sessions, and has also used the platform to collect feedback through patient surveys to make sure it’s meeting patient needs. In addition to IT support, Regroup helps oversee all related program needs, including clinician management, compliance support and reimbursement.
Fostering Better Outcomes
Since implementing its telepsychiatry program with Regroup, WCCHC has been able to meet the behavioral healthcare needs of its community more efficiently and effectively. Key benefits include:
- Operational efficiencies: Regroup is there to provide WCCHC with top-to-bottom program support, from technical questions to regulatory updates. Its ability to handle every aspect of clinician management eliminates the burden of recruitment, retention and administration for the organization.
- Scalable services: The partnership with Regroup enables WCCHC to contract for only as much service as it needs, aligning telepsychiatrist hours with patient volume and providing the option to increase hours as needed over time. Within months of the program launch, the telepsychiatrist’s hours increased from 12 to 16 hours weekly due to high demand.
- Clinical quality: With instant on-screen access to an experienced, caring clinician, WCCHC can now provide patients with convenient, quality behavioral healthcare. Regroup has helped facilitate seamless collaboration between the telepsychiatrist and the on-site care team, resulting in holistic, patient-centered care. Regroup also provides ongoing program support, monitoring any issues, clinician productivity and patient experiences for continuous improvement.