How is Telemedicine used for mental and behavioral health?
Telemental health, telepsychology, e-therapy, m-health, is likely the largest segment of telemedicine users in healthcare because it is so flexible and can be utilized for a variety of client populations in mental and behavioral health. Popular telemedicine uses in mental and behavioral health include:
- Therapy for individual, couples, or groups
- Psychological assessment
- Medication management
- In-home behavioral interventions
- Forensic testimony and evaluation
- Consultation and supervision
- Emotional support
Common mental and behavioral disorders that are treated using telemedicine include:
- Substance abuse and addiction
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
- Neurological conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease and dementia
- Eating disorders
- Neurodevelopmental disorders such as Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) and Intellectual Developmental Disorder
What is Telepsychiatry?
Telemedicine is the process of providing health care from a distance through technology, often using videoconferencing. Telepsychiatry, a subset of telemedicine, can involve providing a range of services including psychiatric evaluations, therapy (individual therapy, group therapy, family therapy), patient education and medication management.
Telepsychiatry can involve direct interaction between a psychiatrist and the patient. It also encompasses psychiatrists supporting primary care providers with mental health care consultation and expertise. Mental health care can be delivered in a live, interactive communication. It can also involve recording medical information (images, videos, etc.) and sending this to a distant site for later review.
What are the benefits of video-based Telepsychiatry?
Video-based telepsychiatry helps meet patients’ needs for convenient, affordable and readily-accessible mental health services. It can benefit patients in a number of ways, such as:
- Improve access to mental health specialty care that might not otherwise be available (e.g., in rural areas)
- Bring care to the patient’s location
- Help integrate behavioral health care and primary care, leading to better outcomes
- Reduce the need for trips to the emergency room
- Reduce delays in care
- Improve continuity of care and follow-up
- Reduce the need for time off work, childcare services, etc. to access appointments far away
- Reduce potential transportation barriers, such as lack of transportation or the need for long drives
- Reduce the barrier of stigma
While some people may be reluctant or feel awkward talking to person in a screen, experience shows most people are comfortable with it. Some people may be more relaxed and willing to open up from the comfort of their home or a convenient local facility. Also, this will likely be less of a problem as people become more familiar and comfortable with video communication in everyday life.
Telepsychiatry allows psychiatrists to treat more patients in distant locations. Psychiatrists and other clinicians need to be licensed in the state(s) where the patient they are working with is located. State licensing boards and legislatures view the location of the patient as the place where “the practice of medicine” occurs.
Although telepsychiatry has the disadvantage of the patient and psychiatrist not being in the same room, it can create enhanced feelings of safety, security and privacy for many patients.
Are patients comfortable with the platform?
Yes, they are. In fact, some patients even prefer receiving treatment through videoconferencing. Sessions are scheduled within days, eliminating the need to identify a psychiatrist nearby– who may be located hours away, as is the case in many areas– then wait several months for an initial appointment. Many individuals appreciate the privacy the platform affords and feel more comfortable seeing psychiatrists remotely, without worrying that they will encounter their psychiatrists in their community.
What software and equipment do I need for a telepsychiatry appointment?
We are using Doxy.me as our videoconferencing provider which is secure and HIPPA-compliant. It has a robust set of features including tools for patient scheduling, videoconferencing, documentation, document sharing, prescribing (medication and lab tests), and workflow automation.
All you will need is a web browser (Chrome, Firefox, Safari) and a desktop computer, laptop, tablet, or your phone.. You can also download the Doxy.me app from the App store (IPhone) or use the Chrome web browser for Android devices.
Will my insurance cover telepsychiatry visits? Can I pay for my session in cash?
Telepsychiatry visits are covered by most major insurance carriers. You will have to check with your insurance carrier and confirm if your plan covers Telepsychiatry visits. We can also accept cash payments directly through the Doxy.me app.