Source: ThinkStock

– The Providence Health System is using telehealth to help its own care providers dealing with stress and burnout.

The Washington-based health system, comprising 51 hospitals in seven states, has unveiled the Telebehavioral Health Concierge program, a connected health service offering virtual appointments on the same day or next day with licensed mental health professionals. The service is being rolled out to some 40,000 employees in Washington, including Providence Health & Services, Swedish Health Services and Kadlec and Pacific Medical Centers.

“We heal others best when we are healthy ourselves, mind, body and spirit,” Executive Vice President and Chief Clinical Officer Amy Compton-Phillips, MD, said in a press release. “The Telebehavioral Health Concierge is one way to support the well-being of all who serve in our facilities and communities. We’re excited about seeing this innovative service scale and making it available to more people in need.”

Provider stress and burnout are at alarmingly high levels in the health industry, prompting a number of programs aimed at giving doctors and nurses the care they need. Some of those solutions include mHealth and telehealth programs that give providers on-demand access to resources.

The topic was addressed in a special program at last year’s American Telemedicine Association conference in New Orleans.

“We have not worked well with technology in the past,” said Peter Yellowlees, MD, a professor of psychiatry at the University of California at Davis and Chief Wellness Officer at UC Davis Health who led the ATA program. “But the beauty of (telemedicine) nowadays is that it gives us a chance to improve our own well-being. We just have to realize how it can be done.”

At Providence – formerly the Providence St. Joseph Health System – officials launched a pilot program several months ago, recording more than 1,100 appointments. In a survey of those using the virtual care platform, nearly half said they wouldn’t have sought help if they didn’t have access or know where to find it.

“Growing a virtual care network to improve access across the western United States is important, because it enables us to deliver tailored care to those struggling to get or find help,” Todd Czartoski, MD, Providence’s Telehealth Chief Medical Officer, said in a press release. “The opportunity to care for our own is really special, and we are thrilled to see such a robust response to this service.”

The health system expects to expand the program to rest of its provider organizations, including those in Alaska, California, Montana, New Mexico, Oregon and Texas, by the end of the year, covering an additional 119,000 employees and 80,000 to 90,000 dependents.