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Learning to Walk: Telehealth’s Development Signals Improved Behavioral Health Care Access

Learning to Walk: Telehealth’s Development Signals Improved Behavioral Health Care Access

June 15th, 2022 (Lanham, MD) More adults and youth are struggling with their mental health and well-being as the pandemic continues. Nearly four in ten American adults experienced anxiety or depression symptoms during the pandemic, compared to one in ten pre-pandemic (Panchal et al. 2021). Similarly, depression and anxiety among youth have nearly doubled since the pandemic and are particularly impacting youth from historically underserved populations (Office of the Surgeon General, 2021; Racine et al, 2021). Yet, access to mental health services and treatment has not kept pace with the increased need and demand for services. In 2021, nearly 25 percent of adults did not receive treatment for mental illnesses (Mental Health America, 2021).

Telehealth is a growing sector of service delivery that is poised to address some of the gaps and barriers to mental health care. The June 2022 Behavioral Health Spotlight, published by the Behavioral Health Advancement Resource Center (BHARC), discusses tele-behavioral health’s significant expansion during the pandemic, its benefits, and important considerations for its utilization moving forward. “It is still early, but tele-behavioral health shows great promise in reducing stigma that some associate with mental health and substance disorder treatment and providing accessible mental health care capacity in hard to serve areas of the U.S.,” said William Scarbrough, BHARC Advisor and Vice President, Health Solutions at The Bizzell Group (Bizzell). “Additional rigorous evaluation is needed to address concerns regarding quality of care, privacy, and third-party data and information sharing.” BHARC is funded by Bizzell.

The BHARC Behavioral Health Spotlight is a thought leadership series highlighting various behavioral health topics that impact communities across the United States and abroad. “Telehealth’s Potential for Expanding Behavioral Healthcare Access” was written by Nancy Bateman, MSW, a Senior Public Health Advisor for Behavioral Health Services at Bizzell. It provides a current snapshot of tele-behavioral health, drawing from recent literature.

About BHARC 
The Behavioral Health Advancement Resource Center (BHARC) is an authoritative source for behavioral health information, insights, technical assistance, training, and innovative tools. BHARC is a mechanism to share evidence-based behavioral health interventions and best practices. The BHARC Advisory Council consists of experts in substance use, mental health, clinical trials, pharmaceuticals, and healthcare standards and quality. Learn more about the Behavioral Health Advancement Resource Center at

About Bizzell 
Established in 2010, Bizzell US is U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) HUBZone certified strategy, consulting, and technology firm with a mission to improve lives and accelerate change. Bizzell US develops innovative solutions to some of the most critical issues of our time such as health care services equity, global health, workforce innovation and other urgent needs facing the world. Under the leadership and vision of founder, Anton C. Bizzell, MD, the company has grown into a thriving firm headquartered in New Carrollton, Maryland with staff and offices in various regions around the country including California, Colorado, Oklahoma, and Georgia, and globally in Africa, Asia, and Central America. Learn more about how we develop data-driven, research-informed, innovative solutions to complex-real-world challenges. Learn more at

Mobile Mental Health Apps: Weighing the Pros and Cons

Mobile Mental Health Apps: Weighing the Pros and Cons

By: Randolph Edmead, MS and Laura LaRue Gertz, MSW, LCSW

As symptoms of stress, anxiety, and depression are increasing during the global COVID-19 pandemic, people may be exploring technology-based strategies to relieve symptoms and to supplement mental health care. Increasingly, telehealth is a service covered by insurance providers. In addition, many people are interested in using mobile apps to supplement their care, track and improve their symptoms, and take proactive steps to improve their mental health through strategies such as stress reduction, relaxation, and cognitive behavioral techniques. Yet individuals may also be wondering how to evaluate if a mobile app is useful, evidence-based, and will safeguard their privacy.

Technology-based strategies such as mobile apps for mental health have many potential advantages. Technology has enormous capacity to gather assessment and monitoring data that can provide valuable insights about symptoms, useful strategies and could lead to more effective treatment. Technology can help overcome access barriers for individuals with mobility issues, for individuals living in rural areas or areas with a shortage of providers, and for individuals who have been reluctant to seek conventional mental health services. And now, mobile access is even more important as individuals may be simultaneously coping with increased symptoms of stress, anxiety, and depression during the pandemic, while experiencing isolation and reduced access to their usual support systems due to physical distancing.

Although there are many potential advantages of mobile apps to supplement mental health care, there are still many barriers and risks, including lack of effectiveness data; challenges with reproducibility, implementation, and dissemination; concerns about the privacy and confidentiality of data and use or misuse of data; and challenges with integration of technology strategies and data into the treatment plan and the health care system. However, there are useful, accessible strategies that can help people assess the safety and usefulness of a mobile app.

The APA App Evaluation Model is an evaluation roadmap to guide informed decision-making in choosing mobile apps in clinical care. The guideline provides a series of questions, organized by levels, that help consumers and providers decide whether to use a mobile app (Torous et al., 2018). This model does not endorse specific apps, but rather promotes a systematic approach to evaluating apps.

The five levels of the APA App Evaluation Model are:

  1. Access and Background: Assesses background information needed prior to evaluation
  2. Privacy and Security: Considers many aspects of app security and privacy
  3. Clinical Foundation: Evaluates any evidence for potential benefits
  4. Usability: Evaluates how usable the app is for the consumer
  5. Data Integration towards Therapeutic Goal: Examines whether the app’s output can be used in a clinically meaningful way

The PsyberGuide, developed through Northwestern University’s Center for Behavioral Intervention Technologies with funding from the One Mind Institute, reviews and rates apps that claim to treat mental health conditions. The publicly available guide helps consumers make informed choices. PsyberGuide provides app ratings based on three metrics:

  1. Credibility: Evaluates the strength of the scientific research for the app, as well as the therapeutic interventions provided by the app
  2. User Experience: Uses the Mobile App Rating Scale (MARS) developed by Stoyanov et al. (2015) to assess the design and user interface
  3. Transparency: Evaluates the clarity of the app’s privacy policy regarding data storage and collection procedures of the app and associated servers

Technology will not replace the human connection that is a central part of the care of individuals experiencing stress, anxiety, and depression. But when technology-based strategies are thoughtfully developed, evaluated, and implemented, they have tremendous potential to augment and expand care, to enhance engagement and treatment, and to improve the quality of life for individuals living with mental health conditions.

Randolph Edmead, MS, Vice President of Federal Government Programs. Randolph Edmead has an extensive background managing large teams in the mental health treatment, substance abuse prevention and treatment, policy, and evaluation service areas. Mr. Edmead has over 18 years of experience developing, implementing, and managing the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s (SAMHSA’s) Centers for Mental Health Services and Substance Abuse Treatment and Prevention programs; providing curricula and training to SAMHSA and health care providers and staff on leading practices, human resources, accreditation survey support, skills development, and cultural competency; and consulting with healthcare organizations and treatment facilities. Mr. Edmead holds a Master of Science Degree in Clinical Psychology.

Laura LaRue Gertz, MSW, LCSW, Public Health Analyst/Scientific Writer. Laura LaRue Gertz has over 30 years of experience in health and mental health, as a clinician, analyst, writer, researcher, and project manager. She developed literature reviews and reports on evidence-based treatments for individuals with serious mental illness for a federal contract with the SAMHSA Center for Mental Health Services (CMHS). She has also worked on contracts with the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), and numerous other U.S Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) agencies. Ms. Gertz holds a Master of Social Work Degree and is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker.

The Bizzell Group (Bizzell) was founded by President & CEO Anton C. Bizzell, M.D., a leading behavioral health expert and former Medical Officer for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). Bizzell’s team of public health experts have created and led comprehensive behavioral health prevention and treatment initiatives and education and training programs. Bizzell’s recent work includes systematic, integrated approaches designed to effect lasting change in health and behavioral health care through work with the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), National Institutes of Health (NIH), Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and the Department of Defense (DOD). Learn more about how Bizzell advances data-driven, research-informed, innovative solutions to solve complex-real-world challenges:


Stoyanov, S. R., Hides, L., Kavanagh, D. J., Zelenko, O., Tjondronegoro, D., & Mani, M. (2015). Mobile app rating scale: A new tool for assessing the quality of health mobile apps. JMIR mHealth and uHealth, 3(1), e27.

Torous, J. B., Chan, S. R., Gipson, S. Y. M. T., Kim, J. W., Nguyen, T. Q., Luo, J., & Wang, P. (2018). A hierarchical framework for evaluation and informed decision making regarding smartphone apps for clinical care. Psychiatric Services, 69(5), 498-500.

The Virtual Pivot: Transforming Your In-Person Meetings to Successful Virtual Events

The Virtual Pivot: Transforming Your In-Person Meetings to Successful Virtual Events

Written by: Almeda Kyser
Virtual events are the new norm. With travel restrictions due to COVID-19, many organizations are rethinking how they disseminate information, build communities online, and engage users. As businesses rush to transform the workplace to accommodate these new demands, virtual workspaces are growing through the use of innovative digital tools and platforms.

But it takes more than digital products to craft an innovative solution to conferences and meetings in the current pandemic. Pulling off a successful virtual event that effectively brings teams and clients together from across the country or around the globe requires strategy, customized technology, and detailed project management.

Virtual meetings can generate higher participation and engagement than in-person meetings regardless of size, with careful attention to the logistical challenges of hosting an event. The Bizzell Group’s (Bizzell) Conference Management and Logistical Support team developed the following list of best practices to help clients and partners transform their in-person meetings to successful virtual events.


Strategy drives the meeting planning process and is the critical element when pivoting to virtual events. It is important to ensure that meeting stakeholders’ perspectives are considered in defining the elements of a successful event outcome, and in choosing the set of virtual tools to deliver that outcome.

  • Set clear goals and objectives for the meeting.
  • Determine which components will be a part of your virtual event: for example, general sessions, breakout sessions, posters, trade show, and networking sessions.
  • Choose a virtual strategy that will help you meet the goals and objectives of your meeting and is aligned with the needs of the audience.
  • Develop a detailed work plan that will create a clear path towards meeting the goals and objectives.


How you deliver the content is just as important as the content itself. The medium really is the message when it comes to virtual meetings. Choose the medium that best meets your audience’s needs — whether it is a webinar to share PowerPoints with a large group, or a teleconference for your weekly team check-in.

  • Webinars/Video Conferences/Virtual Events
    • Webinars allow participants to join from anywhere and view presentations from one or more speakers. Most webinars allow participants to view speakers with video conferencing, ask questions with chat features, provide feedback with polling tools, and use closed captioning. Since webinars allow you to present live or pre-recorded events, be sure to post recorded presentations to your website
    • To enhance the participant experience and innovate your virtual conference, consider creating a virtual world and use a virtual reality system. 3D virtual event platforms are lifelike environments that best match your event’s audience and mimic the dynamics of a physical conference.
    • There are many tools for webinars and virtual events, such as Zoom, Adobe Connect, RingCentral, Microsoft Teams, Bluejeans, Crowdcast, Intrado, Webex, GoToMeeting, GoToWebinar, Google Meet, GlobalMeet and JoinMe. Each offers a variety of tools and features to enhance the overall experience. An experienced Meeting Planner can help you choose the best program for your needs.
  • Teleconferences/Phone
    • Teleconferences allow participants to join an audio call from anywhere. They are accessible through landline, smart device, and computer, making them a good choice to reach a wide variety of participants in multiple locations with varying technology.
    • Many platforms for webinars and virtual events also offer teleconferencing capacity. Check with each platform to evaluate their features and ensure the best fit for your teleconference.
  • Hybrid Events
    • Hybrid events are held for participants unable to travel or attend an in-person event such as town hall meetings, trainings, department meetings or conferences. These events require very high-level video production equipment and online requirements for virtual participants. When successfully implemented, they can offer participants nearly the same experience as in-person attendance.


Maintain a Standard Operating Procedures checklist that can be used and customized across all types of meetings and at every venue, whether virtual or in person. Make this a living document that will guide and develop meeting plans before, during, and after an event, and serve as a record of lessons learned that will track data and drive continuous improvement.

  • Set clear goals for your virtual event and share those goals in your messaging before, during, and after the event.
  • Determine the appropriate platform and technology for your event based on the goals and objectives, and the event components.
  • Design every detail of the meeting, script out every phase in advance, and schedule a dry run rehearsals of all elements including the technology platform.   
  • Always have a plan to prepare for disruptions or glitches that may occur during the meeting. Assign staff to be in charge of managing this aspect of your event.


The success of many events is determined by the quality of the speakers. Preview the speakers before the event and check out reviews from their past presentations. Discuss the meeting goals with the speakers and ensure the content will be focused on the needs of participants and the event.

  • Recruit dynamic speakers who present great content that is relevant to the goals of the event. Content is key, and the content and delivery need to capture and keep your audience’s attention.
  • Recruit speakers who are experienced in virtual formats and have an active plan to engage the virtual audience.


Audience engagement is more important than ever in the new virtual environment. Technology offers exciting opportunities to reach participants in new ways.

  • Create an interactive, meaningful experience by incorporating activities like gamification to keep the audience excited about learning.
  • Leverage digital collaboration tools such as white boards to increase engagement.
  • Incorporate creative tools such as Word Clouds and breakout room discussions and have participants report back to the larger group.
  • Include participant polling and chat box responses during the meeting to enhance engagement and invite feedback. 
  • Keep real-time notes of audience discussion, and invite the audience to recap key themes, takeaways, and next steps at key junctures throughout the meeting.


Audience feedback after the event is the key to making data-driven improvements. With expertly crafted survey instruments, meaningful insights will increase opportunities for success.

  • Analyze participant polling collected during the meeting, to assess real-time engagement and tracking towards meeting goals. 
  • Design post-event surveys to capture meaningful metrics and drive data analytics, such as speaker feedback, digital platform accessibility, participant engagement, achievement of meeting goals, and opportunities for quality improvement.

With a clear strategy, customized technology, and detailed project management, virtual events offer new opportunities to keep groups of all sizes engaged with focused content and active tools to bring meetings to life. Bizzell has successfully orchestrated webinars, virtual conferences, teleconferences, and hybrid events ranging from thousands of participants, to small groups of high-level decision-makers.


Do you need innovative solutions and assistance converting your in-person events to virtual meetings? Contact Bizzell’s team of event planning experts to support your conference and event planning needs.

Bizzell Wins Federal Occupational Health Business Technology Support Contract

Bizzell Wins Federal Occupational Health Business Technology Support Contract

November 27, 2019, (Lanham, MD)— The Bizzell Group (Bizzell) was selected to provide high-speed digital internet access for over 250 geographically-dispersed sites, including Puerto Rico, Alaska, and Hawaii, under a business technology contract supporting the Federal Occupational Health Service’s (FOH) Administration & Resource Management (ARM) Division. FOH is the largest provider of occupational health services in the Federal Government, serving more than 360 Federal agencies and reaching 1.8 million federal employees.

Bizzell is charged with improving the quality and strength of internet services for the agency. Bizzell will support the transition of current connectivity services, providing new connectivity services and removal of terminated connectivity. Bizzell will advise the FOH Help Desk on technical and troubleshooting solutions such as the replacement of faulty hardware, access to knowledge base articles, and help with network equipment and software. Bizzell will provide recommendations on technological products, services, and innovations to advance the mission and goals of the FOH.

“We are proud to be selected for a chance to optimize FOH’s technology functions and capabilities. We hope to provide boundless resolutions and to maximize efficiency in key strategic areas,” said Joe Fichera, Director of Innovation & Technology at Bizzell. “At Bizzell, we recognize the challenges and opportunities in each industry; leveraging our technical expertise helps us and our clients remain ahead of the curve.”

FOH services are designed to improve health outcomes and employee productivity, while reducing occupational health risks, absenteeism, and overall employee health care costs. FOH’s mission is to be the benchmark for Federal occupational health programs, setting the standard for a culture of health and safety across the government workforce.

About Bizzell

Established in 2010, The Bizzell Group (Bizzell) is a U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) 8(a) certified strategy, consulting, and technology firm that specializes in program management, administrative support, communications and outreach, conference management and logistical support, health services and research, technical assistance, and training and development. Bizzell’s expert staff and consultants work on health, scientific, education, environmental, research, and information technology projects that advance national priorities.

Under the leadership and vision of founder, Anton C. Bizzell, MD, the company has grown from a staff of two in one small office, to a thriving firm with three offices in Lanham, MD, Rockville, MD, and Atlanta, GA, with ongoing projects around the world.