Technology is an incredible thing, and soon it could bring changes to farther reaches of the mental health care and medical communities.
Telepsychiatry is defined by the American Psychiatric Association as “the process of providing health care from a distance through technology, often using videoconferencing… including psychiatric evaluations, therapy (individual therapy, group therapy, family therapy), patient education and medication management.”
Regardless of whether you pride yourself on old-fashioned care or embrace new tablet apps for your office, telepsychiatry is a fascinating new approach to psychiatric practice. Overall it’s had a good reception from psych practices. When researchers recently reviewed 126 original studies, they found that practitioners and patients alike reported high levels of satisfaction with telepsychiatry.
And why not? Diagnostic tools are readily available as shareable online files. Online healthcare tests are shareable on social media. Applications to track patient progress are increasingly popular to keep patients and their various doctors in the loop. Video and audio technology nowadays is pretty astounding. It’s no wonder that telepsychiatry has become a tool in many practices’ arsenals.
Here’s some of the creative uses for this method:
- Reaching rural patients with little access to mental healthcare in their immediate area.
- Allowing the psychiatrist to work remotely or from a rural area.
- Accommodating patients who have debilitating conditions such as fears of leaving their house, or issues with mobility.
- Allowing near-immediate psychiatric attention for emergency room patients.
- Providing quick follow-up and medication refill appointments.
- Reaching at-risk patients such as foster children in a faster manner.
For clarification, the location of the patient is considered the actual location of care, so practitioners need to be licensed in the patient’s location to legally treat them.
The advent of telepsychiatry as a growing industry is apparent in business dealings and industry buzz. In August of 2018, the United States’ largest national relayer of telemedicine technology to healthcare providers, SOC Telemed, acquired JSA health, a behavioral health telemedicine company. Together, they now make up the nation’s largest telepsychiatry provider, serving over 450 hospitals and health systems.
Would you ever consider telepsychiatry as a feature in your practice?
We find it pretty fascinating at the Digital Wellness Group, and we’re proud of our library of online healthcare tests, diagnostic tools, and monitoring tools that make life easier for patients and providers both in person and online.