Partner Perspectives: innovaTel Telepsychiatry

retro-style microphone on desk

For this blog post, the first in a series of “Partner Perspectives” spotlights, we sat down with leadership at innovaTel Telepsychiatry – a National Council Platinum Partner – to learn more about their work. innovaTel was founded by a team of clinicians and has a fundamental mission to increase access to timely mental health and substance use treatment. Its founders ran a community mental health center for 25 years and gained a unique understanding of the challenges in our field. Their leadership has been in your shoes. Because of their experience, innovaTel was built to be a solution to one of the most fundamental challenges in mental health and substance use care – access to quality providers.

What one thing in the mental health and substance use treatment field do you think deserves more attention?

“We understand that workforce development challenges are affecting the delivery of care as organizations across the country are experiencing an increase in demand for services. While the overall environment has improved, reimbursement for mental health and substance use services needs to be increased to meet overall market costs. Challenges with reimbursement creates limitations on salaries that can be offered to an already limited workforce, especially within the non-profit sector where the majority of care provided to individuals with serious mental illness has been systematically underfunded. innovaTel is proud to advocate on a national level alongside the National Council to drive toward a more sustainable reimbursement model and, we believe, the Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinic (CCBHC) model is an example of where this is being done really well.”

What’s a bold, 10-year prediction about the space you work in?

“We predict that the system of care will emerge stronger than in the past, with a strong interest in a robust system of mental health and substance use care on a national scale. We will continue to advocate for rates that are consistent and sustainable, which will result in renewed interest from medical students and increased applications for psychiatric residency. The tools for treatment will also improve, including improvement in psychopharmaceuticals, enhanced technologies and artificial intelligence. One day, we may be able to leverage these tools to help cure serious mental illness and substance use disorders. With that, mental illness will no longer be considered a chronic illness but an acute episode of care that is relatively easy to resolve.”

As we come out of the shadows of this global pandemic, there will be a lot of discussion about what mental health and substance use treatment service will look like—how it will be delivered, paid for, equitable access and, of course, need. What has the pandemic taught you about your work?

“As providers of telepsychiatry and teletherapy, innovaTel has learned from our colleagues, families and patients that telemedicine works at least as well as and, in some situations, better than the traditional in-person model. We have partnered with the National Council to connect highly trained psychiatrists, psychiatric nurse practitioners and licensed clinical social workers to remote sites that are limited in capacity. This model has been significantly enhanced with the National Council’s work on the CCBHC initiative that has fundamentally changed the system of care to improve funding, access to care and the scope of services.”

Is there a story about working with a National Council member that makes you proud?

“We have had the opportunity to work with a number of National Council members that we are honored to call partners. As a result of our partnership, a community mental health center (CMHC) that historically closed intake due to a lack of clinical capacity, was able to move to a same-day access model with the additional psychiatric hours made available via telepsychiatry services through innovaTel. This model was only possible through the CCBHC funding stream. Additionally, we have helped National Council members launch or expand their medication-assisted treatment (MAT) programs through our telehealth partnerships, which is helping increase access to care in communities across the country.”

What is something people would find surprising about the work innovaTel does?

“innovaTel is a group of former community mental health center clinicians and administrators that founded the organization eight years ago with the focused mission of timely access to quality care. We recently came together with Quartet Health, whose mission and values mirror those of innovaTel, to deliver speed to quality mental health and substance use treatment for all.”

What do you love most about your work?

“Without exception, the opportunity to work with highly trained clinicians committed to providing excellent care to individuals with serious illnesses, as well as community provider clinics committed to the same mission that do exceptional work every day.”

innovaTel Telepsychiatry was founded by a team of clinicians and has a fundamental mission to increase access to timely mental health and substance use treatment. Its founders ran a community mental health center for 25 years and gained a unique understanding of mental health and substance use challenges. Their leadership has been in your shoes. Because of their experience, innovaTel was built to be a solution to one of the most fundamental challenges in mental health and substance use challenges and access to quality providers.