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Bright Heart Health and Zoom Virtual Counseling
December 22, 2015 by Priscilla Barolo

Eating disorders have the highest mortality rate of all behavioral health disorders – 20% of all eating disorder patients die from their disorder, according to the National Eating Disorder Association (NEDA). Recovery requires commitment over weeks, months, and sometimes years on the part of the patients and their care team. We spoke with Jonathan Ciampi, President of Bright Hearth Health, who discussed telemedicine for this difficult type of illness – and how Bright Heart and Zoom are making a difference in the lives of their patients.

About Bright Heart Health

Jonathan Ciampi, President of Bright Heart Health

Jonathan Ciampi, President of Bright Heart Health

San Ramon, California-based Bright Heart is the first Joint Commission Accredited telemedicine eating disorder program in the US. Through its programs, multi-disciplinary teams treat male and female patients with Anorexia Nervosa, Bulimia Nervosa, and Binge Eating disorder through intensive outpatient programs run entirely on Zoom.

Bright Heart offers a 10-week program, where patients spend 11 hours a week in intensive outpatient therapy via Zoom, including 9 hours a week of group therapy. This is followed by weekly sessions with a therapist and a dietitian. Each patient is given ample personal time with their care team, which includes a therapist, dietician, psychiatrist, and additional support staff. This team also works closely with the patient’s primary care physician “to ensure that the physical, as well as the mental needs of the patient are met,” explained Ciampi.

Benefits of Telemedicine

You might think that nothing beats in-person therapy, but Bright Heart has identified several benefits of telemedicine for treating eating disorders:

  1. Access to Expert Care: There are less than 1,500 certified eating disorder specialists in the country. This means that truly qualified care for people with eating disorders is sometimes hard to find. Every Bright Heart therapist has at least five years of experience treating eating disorders. Patients get the care they need only from experienced specialists.
  2. Flexibility: The largest demographic for Bright Heart is working mothers. These women do not have hours a day to spare for getting to and from therapy. They can’t skip work or leave their children every day for therapy. Jumping in a Zoom session from a private conference room or their home office is a convenient alternative. Telemedicine means they can meet as their schedule allows during day or evening hours. Also, as patients don’t have to leave their homes for their Bright Heart therapy sessions, they are immediately more comfortable in their surroundings. This allows relationships to develop more quickly.
  3. Intimacy: Have you ever stared at someone’s face for an entire conversation? It can be quite awkward! But in telemedicine, the therapist is able to watch a patient’s face on the screen for the entire session. It is the natural thing to do. They are also able to record the session so they can go back and look for things they may have missed. Both the live and recorded sessions allow the therapist to closely examine the patient’s reactions and emotions to create a deeper, more intimate relationship with the client, leading to better care.

Ciampi summarizes it thusly: “Patients engage sooner, it fits their life schedule, they have eating disorder experts treating them, and the therapist can work more intimately with clients.” Bright Heart has seen such positive results that they have partnered with Stanford University to do an outcome study on their patients.

Why Zoom

Ciampi considered various solutions when searching for the best video conferencing platform for Bright Heart. In the end, Zoom was the easy choice for several reasons:

  • HIPAA compliant – “That was number one,” said Ciampi.
  • Ease of use – “The patients just get it,” explained Ciampi. There is no need for Bright Heart to hire its own tech support team because the patients have no trouble with Zoom’s simple interface.
  • Superior affordability
  • Supports multiple participants for group therapy

We at Zoom are proud that our solution can help Ciampi and his team reach and treat more patients. We look forward to seeing how they build their practice over time. Learn more about Bright Hearth Health. To discuss how you can use Zoom for telemedicine, sign up for a demo today.