Inland Empire Health Plan (IEHP) and Health Homes Program Physician Dr. Tarek Mahdi has leveraged telehealth during COVID-19 to continue providing integrated care for his patients. By connecting with his patients through telehealth visits, Dr. Mahdi has been able to maintain care continuity, providing his patients with access to both behavioral health and primary care services.
Prior to February 2020, Dr. Mahdi’s Riverside practice was preparing telehealth visits as an option for future patients. However, to continue providing care for patients during COVID-19, Dr. Mahdi and his team quickly transitioned to telehealth appointments, using the platform Updox to facilitate secure communication.
“It took time for patients to adapt to the new system,” said Dr. Mahdi. “We had some no-shows in the beginning. Since then, we adjusted our scheduling process and are able to provide a specific timeframe as to when the patient can expect to receive our call. That worked much better for patients, and we rarely have no-show patients now.”
Through his work with IEHP’s Health Homes Program, Dr. Mahdi routinely works with two licensed clinical social workers but noted that some patients could benefit from access to additional resources, specifically during COVID-19. He connected with psychiatrist Dr. Diana Havill, to provide consults to his Health Homes patients. Dr. Mahdi and his team brief Dr. Havill on each patient and work together to determine the next steps of care.
“Integrating this team approach is essential to the overall health and well-being of patients,” said Dr. Mahdi. “Behavioral health is an integral part of a healthy person. We know that patients experiencing depression, anxiety or issues related to social determinants of health will struggle to manage their overall health.”
Looking towards an efficient, sustainable future while maintaining quality care for members, Dr. Mahdi and his team are establishing criteria that will help determine when telehealth appointments are the best option for his patients. “By learning to better manage patient health either by video or telephonically, we can ensure good engagement with patients and great health outcomes,” said Dr. Mahdi.
“We are so thankful for provider partners like Dr. Mahdi who have an unwavering commitment to the health and wellness of our members and the community,” said Jarrod McNaughton, IEHP CEO. “It is our absolute pleasure to work with, aid and support our providers in innovating care, and it warms our heart to know our members are in the caring hands of Dr. Mahdi and physicians like him.”