High telehealth availability at federally qualified health centers (FQHCs) was associated with better engagement in care during the COVID-19 pandemic for patients enrolled in Medicaid who had mental health diagnoses, according to a research letter published in JAMA Network Open. Megan B. Cole, PhD, and colleagues assessed whether FQHC-level telehealth availability was associated with visit rates for 11,267 patients with mental health diagnoses (e.g., depression, anxiety, bipolar disorders) enrolled in Medicaid. The analysis included data from adult patients with any baseline mental health diagnosis seen at the Community Care Cooperative, the largest FQHC-based Medicaid accountable care organization in the United States. Visit rates declined across all FQHCs during the COVID-19 pandemic, although high telehealth availability was associated with a larger relative increase in visit rates among patients with mental health diagnoses (incidence rate ratio, 2.07) versus lower telehealth
availability. Results were similar across specific diagnoses of depression, anxiety, stressor-related, or mood disorders, and high telehealth availability increased the likelihood of follow-up within 30 days of a mental health-related ED visit.