New study highlights best practices for delivering care via telehealth

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) has developed six principles of trauma-informed care: safety, trustworthiness and transparency, peer support, collaboration and mutuality, empowerment, voice and choice, and sensitivity to cultural, historical and gender issues. Researchers from Boston University School of Medicine (BUSM) describe ways in which these concepts can be used during telehealth encounters in primary care and other specialties to help mitigate the isolating, traumatic effects of COVID-19.

“COVID-19 has created stressors that are unprecedented in our modern era, prompting health care systems to adapt rapidly. Demand for telehealth has skyrocketed, and clinicians, many of whom had planned to adopt virtual practices in the future, have been pressured to do so immediately. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) in March 2020, expanded telehealth services, removing many barriers to virtual care. By the time the pandemic was underway in the US, telehealth was already in widespread use across the  Veterans Health Administration (VHA)  In late March 2020, VHA released a COVID-19 Response Plan, in which telehealth played a critical role in safe, uninterrupted delivery of services.

According to the researchers from BUSM, trauma-informed virtual care during the COVID-19 pandemic has the potential to ensure and even expand continuity of medical care, offer connection and support to trauma survivors, and enhance patient and clinician resilience in this time of need. “Clinicians have a unique opportunity during this pandemic to apply trauma-informed care principles early on and to envision how telehealth may contribute to a more meaningful care experience for all and a more equitable future for those we care for,” said Gerber, associate professor of medicine at BUSM.

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Source: Gerber MR, et al. Fed Pract. 2020 July;37(7):302-308