The Importance of Modality Choice in Mental Health Care
Imagine you’re experiencing mental health challenges. You decide to seek help, but you’re not sure where to start. Maybe you’ve heard good things about therapy, but you’re not sure what kind of treatment to pursue. Or maybe you’re interested in medication, but you’re not sure if it’s right for you.
No matter where you’re starting, it’s important to know that you have mental health choices. There is no one-size-fits-all approach to mental health care. What works for one person may not work for another. That’s why it’s so important to have access to a variety of treatment modalities, as well as the ability and freedom to choose the modality that is best for you.
Connecting with Available Providers is Only the First Step toward Effective Behavioral Health Care Delivery
With more people than ever suffering from behavioral health issues, there has been a growing awareness of the need to prioritize mental health care. Health plans and employers are providing expanded mental health coverage to meet the demand, but many people still face barriers to accessing care, such as stigma, cost and a lack of resource availability. Simply connecting people with available providers is not enough. We must also give people the ability to choose the treatment modality that is best for them.
In early September, a Health Affairs/RAND survey found that 32% of behavioral health patients reported that they did not typically receive their preferred treatment modality and 45% did not believe that their clinician considered their modality preferences at all. In many instances, this perceived lack of choice had a substantial impact on both patient satisfaction and rapport with clinicians and drove some patients to seek care elsewhere or ultimately not at all.
Offering a choice of modality can help to increase access to care by making it more convenient and affordable for patients. For example, the Health Resources and Services Administration found that 120 million Americans live in a part of country with a mental health provider shortage. Telehealth can be a good option for this population, those living in rural areas or those with difficulty traveling. Phone therapy can be a good option for people who have busy schedules or who are concerned about confidentiality.
Offering Behavioral Health Care Choice Modality Reaps Benefits
“[Modality choice] is the foundation for creating an environment in which patients feel heard, valued and empowered.”
Bernard DiCasimirro, D.O. – Chief Medical Officer
- Stronger patient-provider relationships — The patient-provider relationship is essential to effective mental health care, and modality choice can help to strengthen this connection. When patients trust and respect their providers and feel that they have a voice when it comes to selecting a treatment modality, they are more likely to open up about their challenges and to be receptive to recommendations.
- Overcoming barriers — Empowering patients to choose the treatment format that is most comfortable and easiest for them can help address some of the most common barriers to care (e.g., stigma and inconvenience), and ensure that the care best meets their specific needs. For example, some people may benefit from individual therapy, while others may benefit from a group setting Additionally, some people may need medication to manage their symptoms, while others may prefer to focus on non-pharmacological treatments.
- Enhanced engagement — A patient’s choice of treatment modality can greatly affect their level of engagement and commitment to the treatment process. A 2023 survey conducted by Health Affairs of U.S. adults who used behavioral health services found that “…lack of choice affected satisfaction and rapport with clinicians and encouraged some people to seek care elsewhere.”
- Improved treatment adherence — In mental health treatment, adherence to the prescribed plan is vital for success. When patients actively participate in the selection of their treatment modality, they tend to adhere better to the plan because they believe in its effectiveness. This results in improved outcomes and achieving long-term mental well-being.
Leveraging Technology with a Human-Centric Approach to Connect People to Care
Despite the strong demand and increasing societal awareness of the importance of mental health, over half of U.S. adults with mental illness never make it to care. It is clear that more must be done to improve access to behavioral health services for everyday Americans.
Technology can play a valuable role in expanding access to mental health care and providing patients with more choices in how they receive treatment. For example, virtual therapy platforms can connect patients with providers from the comfort of their own homes. Digital tools can be used to provide patients with self-help resources and support. But technology alone cannot solve the problem of mental health care access.
Lucet helps solve this problem by leveraging a combination of humans and technology to not only close gaps in care but to ensure that it is the right care to meet patient needs and preferences. This is accomplished by starting with a robust clinical screening process that the company’s care navigators conduct with health plan members. Lucet’s Navigate & Connect algorithm matches patients with providers who meet their needs, including their preferred treatment modality. With Navigate & Connect, care navigators can provide concierge-level service to assess members’ treatment requirements at the initial point of contact, leveraging advanced algorithms to gain advanced insight into members’ needs, then connect them to the most appropriate treatment available. The platform also gives providers measurement-based care tools to monitor the success of the therapeutic alliance and ensure that standards of care are met.
Modality choice is more than just a “nice to have” option in mental health treatment. It is the foundation for creating an environment in which patients feel heard, valued and empowered. The ability to choose their preferred treatment modality not only enhances patient engagement and adherence, but also fosters trust in the therapeutic relationships. As we continue to strive for improved mental health outcomes, it’s essential to recognize the importance of modality choice and make it a central tenet of patient-centric care.
Bernard DiCasimirro, D.O. is chief medical officer at Lucet, The Behavioral Health Optimization Company.