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Encounter Telehealth Serves Mental Health Needs

Encounter Telehealth is an Omaha-based start-up giving elderly patients the ability to connect with mental health providers over a secure, high-quality, cloud-based video platform.

Their services provide care across a spectrum of mental health needs which include psychiatric evaluations, medication management, psychotherapy, family therapy, and staff training, available to residents of skilled nursing facilities, assisted and independent living communities, and in-home care.

3 Issues for the Elderly with Mental Health Disorders

  1. Over 20% of adults over 60 suffer from a mental or neurological disorder. Worldwide, the number of elderly mental health patients is skyrocketing and set to top 2 billion by 2050.[1]
  2. The United States has a severe shortage of mental health professionals, projected to reach a deficit of 30,000 professionals by 2025.[2]
  3. The elderly often have mental and physical difficulties traveling to regular appointments with service providers, particularly if they live in geographically remote rural areas.  

A Convenient and Life-Saving Solution

Encounter Telehealth helps meet this need by giving elderly mental health patients, their families, and staff of residential facilities access to high quality mental health services via videoconferencing technology. When a patient begins services with Encounter Telehealth they receive an evaluation and care plan customized to their needs. These are conducted by a team of certified Psychiatric Mental

Health Nurse Practitioners located across the US but providing care primarily in the Midwest, Mountain states, and New England—areas with large numbers of rural elderly people.

Some conditions identified in the initial screening that may be suitable for telehealth include depression, anxiety, PTSD, OCD, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, Alzheimer’s, dementia, grief and loss, and people taking psychotropic medications.

After the initial 1-hour evaluation, patients see psychiatric providers monthly for 20-30 minute appointments as needed for medication management services. Additionally, patients may receive counseling and mental health services as needed from Licensed Clinical Social Workers.

Encounter Telehealth assigns one provider per patient to provide consistency across the continuum of care. Family members may also attend the appointment with their loved one via the video-conferencing system.

Encounter Telehealth also provides 45-minute training sessions for staff of residential facilities covering topics such as “Identifying Signs of Dementia,” “The Importance of Antipsychotic Reductions,” and “Working with Families of a Resident with Mental Illness.”

An Effective Startup

Encounter Telehealth started in November 2016 with $410,000 in seed money and went on to raise total funding of $1.3 million.[3]

President and CEO Jen Amis, a Nebraska native, has in excess of 20 years of management experience in telecommunications, venture capital, and healthcare. She previously founded and managed Statim, a telehealth company providing remote patient monitoring services and as a business consultant to other start-up technology and hospitality companies.[4]

Commenting on the business environment of Nebraska as compared to her previous experiences on the East and West coasts, Jen says, “I didn’t necessarily expect much of a difference between the startup worlds on the coasts and back home in Nebraska. But what a difference it was—I found a community of entrepreneurs, investors and others . . . who are genuinely interested in your success. The entrepreneurial community here is full of people who want to collaborate and make a difference, including a highly accessible investor network. Granted, I am one, but I truly love working with Midwesterners.”[5]

Government and Insurance Playing Catch-Up

One of the difficulties the company has faced is a lag in government and insurance agency policies regarding their novel services. In 2015, founder of Encounter Telehealth, Jen Amis, said that that 15 states provided coverage for telehealth services but that this number would increase.[6]

Jen’s prediction proved true. In response to COVID-19, 22 states changed laws or policies to provide greater access to telemedicine.[7] Today, Encounter Telehealth serves patients’ mental health in over 23 states. The remaining states have permit only reduced and restricted practices but there is hope for patients as policies and laws continue to play catch up.

A Pleased Patient

Barbara, a 74-year-old rural widow, has begun having routine appointments via telehealth from her home. Questioned about her experience, she said, “Well, I haven’t been much on going to the doctor’s office unless something was really wrong. It’s a lot of trouble to get myself together to go out and to be honest, it feels like a lack of dignity to be told where to sit and what to do–all those little things they do at the doctor’s office. My daughter helped me set up an appointment on the computer and I didn’t much care for the technology at first but once I started talking to the nurse I felt comfortable with it. I have visits with them regularly now about my medication and how I’m feeling, and don’t mind it because it doesn’t take up so much of my time.”

This is exactly the kind of experience Encounter Telehealth would like to multiply across the nation, to make mental health care a dignified, convenient, and routine experience for millions of seniors.

To learn more, visit the Encounter Telehealth website at:

Editor: scroll down for pictures from the Encounter Telehealth website.









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