eHealth and Waiting Lists

eHealth and waiting lists: How digital innovations help reduce waiting times in mental health care

Everybody agrees on the urgent problem of long waiting lists in mental health care. Government and industry advocates address the issue and make a plea for an integrated approach of waiting lists. eHealth plays a significant part in this approach, but it remains unclear how digital services will explicitly help solve the negative effects of waiting lists.

How can people with mental problems get help more quickly through the use of eHealth?
By Frank Kraaijeveld

Support during the waiting time

One might already feel like being helped when during the waiting time, one …

  • is provided information and education
  • feels that his request for help is being heard
  • can already prepare online for the intake or treatment
  • notices that loved ones are also informed


An online service (contact, self-help, information) can help adjust a referral or prevent a mismatch. Also, services like online contact with an expert can be supportive and contribute to a realistic expectation of psychiatric care.

Process innovation in registration and intake phase

After a telephonic registration and screening, one should be able to get access to online elements of a so-called blended intake, such as being able to:

  • Get instant online access to tailored information
  • Fill in data yourself
  • Specify your request for help
  • Fill in short questionnaires


On the condition of sufficient certainty on the diagnosis and treatment indication, self-managed help or psycho-education can be offered in addition to his blended intake, to increase a patient’s knowledge on the issue. Experiences with blended intake indicate a reduction of no-show and dropouts in this phase.

Personalized aftercare and effective completion of treatment

Completing a specialized treatment at the right place and moment is often a challenge for patient and care provider. The patient might still be experiencing vulnerabilities and the care provider might still see risks. These uncertainties often lead to an unnecessary long duration of treatment. Nowadays, faith in the resilience of the patient is growing steadily.

A tailor-made aftercare and relapse prevention program and dosed contact possibilities can help the patient deal with uncertainty and calling for help when necessary. A successful aftercare plan can help shorten the duration of treatment. A good example of this is the relapse prevention program at Altrecht eating disorders Rintveld.

Digitalize with a vision

To increase the chance of success in these digital opportunities, it is important for a healthcare organization to elaborate on how to create an efficient service that optimally combines online and face-to-face services.

Important elements in such a vision are:

  • Give space to patients and care providers to have a joined investment into the context and content of your approach
  • Innovate and optimize workflows together with clinicians, so that they can combine online and face-to-face services well
  • Take care of a patient-focused eHealth infrastructure which gives patients something to choose and in which care professional can offer guidance in a personal manner