How Rhinogram Bridges the Mental Health Gap in Rural Patient Care

May is Mental Health Awareness Month, a time to acknowledge the extraordinary emotional and psychological stress that Americans from all walks of life have been feeling this year and every year. The mental toll has been especially acute for rural residents, who face additional barriers to treatment that suburban and urban residents likely don’t. Although not as densely populated, many rural areas suffered COVID-19 infections at per-population rates that exceeded urban areas, and we are seeing that mental health issues have followed.


A study comparing mental health issues pre-pandemic and during the pandemic found that 40% of U.S. adults have reported anxiety or depressive order symptoms, compared to just 10% before the pandemic.


Unfortunately, a stigma remains around mental health. While mental illness cuts across demographic and socio-economic lines, rural communities likely are affected more severely, due to a combination of cultural, technological and logistical hurdles to treatment.


In small towns, where it seems like everybody knows everybody else – and, seemingly, everybody else’s business – it can be a challenge to make an in-person visit to a therapist without friends, neighbors, or co-workers finding out. Rural residents with behavioral health issues usually have few (or no) mental health professionals to choose from, and they might have to travel fairly long distances to see a practitioner in person. Indeed, over half of the 3,075 rural counties in the nation have no psychologists, psychiatrists or social workers, according to a report from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.


During the pandemic, telehealth has become a great boon for all types of treatment specialties, especially mental health. However, rural communities frequently lack reliable Wi-fi access to make telehealth happen. Broadband Internet service in these communities can be hit-or-miss or prohibitively expensive. In fact, in the year that began in March 2020, while urban residents made 50 telehealth visits per 10,000, people in rural areas made just 31 visits per 10,000.


Overcoming Challenges Facing Rural Patients with Virtual Care

How can healthcare providers close the gap between the need for, and the delivery of, effective mental health services in rural communities? Rhinogram’s virtual care platform provides the solution.


Since the Rhinogram platform transforms a practitioner’s landline into a textable communications device, patients don’t have to master new technology, download cumbersome applications or memorize any new usernames or passwords. The user-friendly, secure, two-way text messaging lets patients ask and get answers to their questions, as well as receive appointment reminders, coping mechanisms, treatment plan and medication guidance, and other mental health resources to support their therapy.



These patients can also see their therapists live, on video, without having to navigate a portal, much less wrestle with an app. No high-speed internet connection is required for this level of communication. Moreover, the paperwork jungle that patients and providers often dread is easily streamlined, as the platform’s customizable forms and e-signature functionality make it easy to collect new patient information, consent, medical records and other health data.


Because the Rhinogram platform makes treatment access convenient and timely for rural patients, removing communications barriers between patients and care team members, they can more readily comply with the therapy schedules and treatment regimens that are essential to their improvement and recovery. By removing boundaries of remote mental health care in its two-fold approach, Rhinogram is proving to be the solution for Behavioral Health in rural communities.


Want to learn more about how Rhinogram serves the Behavioral Health community? Visit https://www.rhinogram.com/behavioral-health.