Huntington’s Disease Society of America Launches First-of-its-Kind Free Telehealth Counseling for HD Families
New York, NY, June 21, 2017 – Today, the Huntington’s Disease Society of America (HDSA) is launching a new technology partnership with leading telehealth company American Well® to offer free online therapy to people affected by Huntington’s disease (HD). HDSA-trained licensed social workers and psychologists will be available on American Well’s telehealth platform to families in all 50 states to help manage the emotional symptoms and burden of HD. Funding for this program is provided by a generous grant from Teva Pharmaceuticals.
Psychiatric and behavioral problems are highly prevalent in families affected by Huntington’s disease, which is a rare, genetic disease that causes the progressive breakdown of nerve cells in the brain. Best estimates from mental health professionals indicate that approximately 50 percent of patients seen at HD clinics, such as HDSA Centers of Excellence, are referred to counseling for issues ranging from anxiety and depression to stress management and suicidal thoughts. Unfortunately, it is estimated that only between 15 and 25 percent of those referred for counseling actually seek treatment.
“By partnering with American Well, we are confident that we can greatly improve access to care for families impacted by the challenging mental health nature of HD,” said Louise Vetter, President & CEO of the Huntington’s Disease Society of America. “Thanks to the generous support from Teva we are able to provide free telehealth appointments with professionals who have HD expertise. This fills an urgent gap in care and removes the barriers of cost, geography and convenient scheduling that too often keep families from seeking the help they need.”
Huntington’s disease deteriorates a person’s physical and mental abilities during their prime working years and has no cure. Each child of a parent with HD has a 50/50 chance of inheriting the faulty gene that causes HD. Today, there are more than 30,000 symptomatic Americans and an estimated 200,000 at-risk of inheriting the disease. The symptoms of HD are described as having ALS, Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s – simultaneously.
The burden of care for families affected by HD is enormous. The need for multiple, expert care providers coupled with the physical, emotional and financial barriers makes following optimal clinical plans challenging. Finding clinicians skilled in HD, travelling to these providers and, for caregivers, finding coverage to care for their loved ones so they can take care of themselves, are all fundamental logistical barriers to HD care.
“We are so pleased to partner with the HDSA and make mental health services available online to Huntington’s disease patients, their caregivers and families,” said Mary Modahl, Senior Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer, American Well. “We know from experience that many patients with chronic conditions often also bear the burden of mental health conditions such as depression and anxiety. The ability to receive counseling and support from experienced healthcare professionals through telehealth should ease that burden by making it easier and more convenient to get help.”
To utilize HDSA’s free telehealth portal, visit www.hdsa.amwell.com or download the free Amwell® app and use the codes HDSA or HD to access the Huntington’s disease practice. On the site, patients can schedule personal appointments with social workers and psychologists licensed in their state. The session is free for families affected by HD, and no insurance is required.
About the Huntington’s Disease Society of America
The Huntington’s Disease Society of America is the premier nonprofit organization dedicated to improving the lives of everyone affected by HD. From community services and education to advocacy and research, HDSA is the world’s leader in providing help for today, hope for tomorrow for people with HD and their families.
To learn more about Huntington’s disease and the work of the Huntington’s Disease Society of America, visit www.hdsa.org or call (800) 345-HDSA.
About American Well
American Well uses telehealth to improve people’s access to quality care. Through our partnerships with the nation’s largest health systems, insurers, employers, and retailers, our award-winning telehealth ExchangeTM and our direct-to-consumer service, Amwell, we connect millions of Americans to the doctors they trust for live video visits. Through the power of telehealth, we help patients get the care they need in a timely fashion, and help doctors be there for their patients. We build technologies to make healthcare go where people need it most. For more on how we are changing healthcare delivery through telehealth, visit AmericanWell.com. American Well and Amwell are trademarks of American Well Corporation in the United States and other countries.
For more information on our services, visit www.americanwell.com. To download Amwell and have a doctor visit now, visit www.amwell.com.