Harris Poll Survey Offers Insights into Potential of Telepsychiatry During and After the COVID-19 Pandemic
As the use of telehealth services has expanded during the COVID-19 pandemic, results from a survey conducted by The Harris Poll showed that more than one in four (27%) U.S. adults surveyed were currently using telepsychiatry (“telepsych”) services for mental health care. Among those respondents who reported current use of telepsych services (“telepsych users”), 62% agreed* that they would not be able to get the care they needed without telepsych services and 67% agreed* that telepsych services have helped them maintain their treatment regimen (such as taking their medication and accessing other support services). Nevertheless, education and awareness barriers exist and both telepsych users and non-telepsych users surveyed agreed* that they wished they knew more about accessing telepsych services (65% and 37%, respectively). The findings released today offered insights into both the potential promise and challenges of telepsych as a complementary behavioral health option to standard in-person care, during and after the pandemic.
“Telepsych has fulfilled a critical need in my addiction medicine practice for continuity of care for my patients during social isolation and stay-at-home orders,” said Dr. Russell Surasky, FAAN, ABAM, ABPM, a triple board-certified neurologist and addiction medicine specialist, medical director at Bridge Back to Life Center, Inc., and a provider of telemedicine for substance use disorders in New York. “While telepsych cannot fully replicate needed in-person interactions for all patients, it has emerged as a viable and valuable complement and way for my patients to continue to access the services and support that they need to help stay in treatment during this crisis, including virtual group therapy, one-on-one counselling and medical appointments. The convenience and connection enabled by expanded telepsych use has been a benefit to my patients and I believe it will extend beyond the COVID-19 pandemic.”
The Alkermes-Harris Poll Telepsychiatry & Mental Health Survey was conducted by The Harris Poll on behalf of Alkermes, a global biopharmaceutical company focused on serious mental illness and addiction. The survey of more than 2,000 adults in the U.S. assessed how the respondents used telepsych to access care and services during the COVID-19 pandemic and gauged interest in future usage, following the coronavirus pandemic. The survey is part of Alkermes’ broader efforts to engage with patients, healthcare providers and advocates to better understand the mental health community’s needs during these unprecedented times.
“This is our first survey that looked specifically at the use of telepsych during COVID-19,” said Kathy Steinberg, Vice President of Public Release Research at The Harris Poll. “We have seen significantly more people report using telemedicine during the pandemic for a variety of health needs, and this survey showed the potential of telepsych to help address a range of mental health conditions, such as depression, anxiety, substance use disorders, bipolar disorder and schizophrenia. However, the survey also suggests a need for additional education and awareness to help people understand the potential value of telepsych services and to support adoption and long-term use.”
Key findings from the survey include:
- Telepsych supported continuity of care, access to mental health services: 62% of telepsych users surveyed agreed they would not be able to get the care they needed without the telepsych services they had been using and 67% agreed that the telepsych services they had been using helped them stick to their treatment regimen (such as taking their medication and engaging in talk therapy).
- Lasting and broad appeal: Approximately three in four (74%) current telepsych users surveyed were interested in continuing to use these services after the coronavirus pandemic, highlighting the potential of these services to be useful beyond the current crisis.
- Despite enthusiasm for telepsych services, gaps and challenges persisted: Both telepsych users (65%) and non-telepsych users (37%) surveyed wished they knew more about how to access telepsych services, suggesting a need for additional education. In addition, when asked about difficulties or challenges they experience with telepsych services, telepsych users surveyed cited a lack of privacy/worry that others in the home may overhear their conversation (25%), a preference for in-person treatment (24%) and a lack of time to dedicate to telepsych due to other commitments (23%).
“The COVID-19 pandemic has exposed some existing challenges and inequalities in mental health care and highlighted the need for a more accessible, patient-centered approach,” said Richard Pops, Chief Executive Officer of Alkermes. “The healthcare system has rapidly evolved to meet the challenges of this pandemic, and an important element of this has been the accelerated adoption of telehealth services. However, the healthcare industry as a whole has a responsibility to continue to push for lasting changes that will expand access to services and medication, implement long-term policies and payment models, and remove traditional barriers so that the standards of patient care can be raised beyond the current crisis.”
In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Alkermes pivoted organizational activities to adapt and evolve across its business and has adopted measures to help support the use of telemedicine. Earlier this year, Alkermes began the process of incorporating elements of telemedicine technology into its ongoing clinical trials so that research is able to continue uninterrupted, adapted an ongoing study and designed a new clinical study to explore patient and healthcare provider experiences with telemedicine, as well as developed new educational materials and resources to support patient access to their prescribed therapies through telehealth. For more information about Alkermes’ COVID-19 response and related efforts, visit www.Alkermes.com.
* Unless otherwise noted, all “agree” percentages represent a net, or sum, of the proportion of respondents who selected “somewhat agree” and those who selected “strongly agree” in response to the question asked.
The Alkermes-Harris Poll Telepsychiatry & Mental Health Survey was conducted online within the United States by The Harris Poll on behalf of Alkermes from May 27-29, 2020 among 2,019 U.S. adults ages 18 and older. Among the survey respondents, more than 1 in 4 (27%)—or 569 respondents—were current telepsych users and telepsych users were slightly more likely to be male (58%) than female (42%), had an average age of 36.9 years old (though 26% of telepsych users were ages 45+), came from varying racial/ethnic backgrounds (57% white, 22% Hispanic, 19% Black/African-American), and lived across the country (24% Northeast, 15% Midwest, 36% South and 24% West). This online survey was not based on a probability sample and therefore no estimate of theoretical sampling error can be calculated. For complete survey methodology, including weighting variables and subgroup sample sizes, or for any additional question regarding the survey, please send requests to email@example.com.
Alkermes plc is a fully integrated, global biopharmaceutical company developing innovative medicines in the fields of neuroscience and oncology. The company has a portfolio of proprietary commercial products focused on addiction and schizophrenia, and a pipeline of product candidates in development for schizophrenia, bipolar I disorder, neurodegenerative disorders and cancer. Headquartered in Dublin, Ireland, Alkermes plc has an R&D center in Waltham, Massachusetts; a research and manufacturing facility in Athlone, Ireland; and a manufacturing facility in Wilmington, Ohio. For more information, please visit Alkermes’ website at www.alkermes.com.
About The Harris Poll
Founded in 1963 by pollster Lou Harris, The Harris Poll is one of the world’s leading public opinion, social intelligence and strategy firms. Through continuous pulsing of society in the U.S. and internationally, Harris helps clients interpret, adapt and respond to constantly changing issues. Widely recognized for its polls and insight on voter sentiment, The Harris Poll also leverages bespoke polls to advise Fortune 500 C-suites on how to meet the evolving needs and wants of their customers and other stakeholders.
In 2017, The Harris Poll joined the Stagwell Group to create the largest independent data-driven digital market services firm in the U.S. The Harris Poll is run by co-CEOs Will Johnson and John Gerzema, two veteran strategists with backgrounds in analytics and brand marketing from senior roles at WPP agencies BAV Consulting and Young & Rubicam.
Alkermes Note Regarding Forward-Looking Statements
Certain statements set forth in this press release constitute “forward-looking statements” within the meaning of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995, as amended, including, but not limited to, statements concerning Alkermes’ plans and expectations regarding adaptations to its business operations in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, including its incorporation of elements of telemedicine technology into its clinical trials and study designs; the potential value of telepsych services in supporting access to treatment and helping to address a range of mental health conditions; and expectations regarding continued and expanded use of telepsych during and after the COVID-19 pandemic. The company cautions that forward-looking statements are inherently uncertain. Although the company believes that such statements are based on reasonable assumptions within the bounds of its knowledge of its business and operations, the forward-looking statements are neither promises nor guarantees and they are necessarily subject to a high degree of uncertainty and risk. Actual results may differ materially from those expressed or implied in the forward-looking statements due to various risks and uncertainties, including, among others: whether the results of The Alkermes-Harris Poll Telepsychiatry & Mental Health Survey represent the beliefs and opinions of the U.S. population generally and/or are predictive of real-world future use of telepsych services; the impacts of COVID-19 and efforts to mitigate its spread on Alkermes’ business, including its clinical trials and other business operations; and those risks and uncertainties described under the heading “Risk Factors” in the company’s Annual Report on Form 10-K for the year ended Dec. 31, 2019, the company’s Quarterly Report on Form 10-Q for the quarter ended March 31, 2020 and in subsequent filings with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”), which are available on the SEC’s website at www.sec.gov. Existing and prospective investors are cautioned not to place undue reliance on these forward-looking statements, which speak only as of the date hereof. Except as required by law, the company disclaims any intention or responsibility for updating or revising any forward-looking statements contained in this press releas
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