More and more patients these days are taking advantage of telemedicine and psychiatric treatment which has been made available because of advances in technology, particularly in the area videoconferencing. This has been a boon to many patients and doctors as well, because it allows for psychiatric evaluations and various types of therapy, even though patient and doctor may be significantly separated by geography. Most of the time, such sessions are conducted so that patient and doctor can see each other on the screen, but mental health care can also be delivered by recording important medical information on videos and sending it to the patient.
Advantages of Using Telemedicine and Psychiatric Treatment
The advent of telemedicine has proven to be a boon for mental health patients, just as it has for patients who require physical treatment. For doctors who are extremely busy, it provides them a chance to bring care directly to a patient without having to travel to their specific site. This can be especially important in areas where mental healthcare is not available at all, for instance in less developed cities and towns.
In many cases, mental healthcare is also coupled with physical care for a patient, which can provide better overall care and improve patient outcomes. When issues can be identified early on, that will help save on trips to an emergency room, or emergency psychiatric care. For patients, it’s usually much easier to arrange for telemedicine sessions, thus reducing delays in obtaining care. It also generally does away with the need to take days off from work in order to keep doctor appointments, or to arrange for babysitting while the patient keeps an appointment.
Telemedicine sessions overcome the obvious difficulty which may be present, in the form of transportation obstacles which may exist between doctor and patient. For some people, talking with the doctor via videoconferencing is even more comfortable than talking face-to-face with the doctor, because the session is less immediate. It has a tendency to make people more comfortable when they can conduct a session from home or from a local clinic, as opposed to sitting right in front of a doctor, which can be a little intimidating.
Increasing Need for Treatment
There has been an increasing need for telemedicine and psychiatric treatment in this country for several years now, especially with the opioid addiction epidemic raging on. Patients who have the most need for psychiatric care simply don’t have access to it when they need it, and some patients avoid treatment because of the stigma attached to it. When Medicare made the decision to expand telemedicine coverage for a number of mental health services a few years ago, it opened up the doors for insurance companies and telemedicine providers to make available greater psychiatric care through telemedicine.
The reason that telemedicine can be so effective in the area of psychiatric treatment, is that it does not require any physical exams to be made. All that’s really necessary is the facilitation of a conversation between patient and doctor. A survey conducted by Price Waterhouse-Cooper on patients between the ages of 18 and 44, found that 72% of those patients would be prepared to receive mental health care via telemedicine, rather than in an office setting.
Future of Telemedicine and Psychiatric Treatment
Not surprisingly, the areas of this country where opioid addiction is the most prevalent are the rural areas, which just so happen to be the same areas where patients have less access to mental healthcare. It is for this reason that the Federal government issued grants totaling $1.4 million towards the development of telemedicine programs across three different states, all of which are in the Appalachian region which has a significant opioid problem.
If this program were to do well, and provide significant service to those most in need of it, it’s easy to see how similar programs could be implemented throughout the country. Telemedicine and psychiatric treatment are two concepts that were just made for each other, and it’s very likely in the future, that we’ll see the two practices coupled more and more frequently.
One company spearheading the drive toward greater use of telemedicine is Encore Telemedicine, which offers virtual healthcare staffing solutions to medical facilities everywhere. Contact us if you have any questions about how telemedicine can save time and money for your practice, or if you would like to consult about a potential virtual solution for your staffing needs.