Less than 40 percent of people with common mental health problems receive treatment. From the mental health stigma to a lack of providers, there are many reasons why so many suffer in silence. The current Covid-19 pandemic has only made things worse, adding more barriers to seeking psychiatric help, even while the pandemic is showing a rise in depression, anxiety and other mental health concerns.
A bright spot with the pandemic is that it has forced more providers to embrace telemedicine and presented greater opportunities for people to seek help. Telemedicine psychiatry is rising in popularity, connecting licensed psychiatrists with patients around the world through virtual visits.
The telemedicine platform brings clinicians to patients via secure connections for consultations, appointments and treatment plans in hospitals, clinics and patient’s homes. Emergency departments, clinics and physician offices are currently burdened with an influx of patients and decreased available staff. Telemedicine enables telephysicians to fill in staffing gaps or use the platform as the primary means of delivering HIPPA-compliant patient care efficiently and at scale.
In 2018, the American Psychiatric Association updated its policy on telepsychiatry, saying:
“Telemedicine in psychiatry, using video conferencing, is a validated and effective practice of medicine that increases access to care. The American Psychiatric Association supports the use of telemedicine as a legitimate component of a mental health delivery system to the extent that its use is for the benefit of the patient, protects patient autonomy, confidentiality, and privacy; and when used consistent with APA policies on medical ethics and applicable governing law.”
Telemedicine psychiatry can offer patients a range of services, including, psychiatric evaluations, individual therapy, group therapy, family therapy, medication management and patient education in the form of informational videos. Telepsychiatry software involves a direct connection between the patient and the psychiatrist via videoconferencing and provides primary care providers the support and expertise of a licensed psychiatrist.
While many people feel uncomfortable seeking psychiatric health due to the stigma surrounding mental illness, telehealth enables patients greater access and convenience in seeking help. Providers also experience a multitude of benefits by implementing a telepsychiatry platform, including:
– Reduced time off from work for outpatient appointments
– More accessible care in rural areas
– Reduction in emergency department visits
– Reduction in the delay of care
– Delivering care directly to the patient
– Breaking the stigma barrier
Telepsychiatry can be utilized in many settings, including nursing homes, outpatient clinics, primary care offices, schools, emergency departments, correctional facilities and military hospitals.
Now that patients are able to schedule appointments directly with psychiatrists or psychologists using a telehealth platform, many healthcare providers are moving to offer mental health evaluations through telehealth services via an inpatient model. Overall this gives the patient a wider variety of physicians to choose as their provider for issues such as depression, anxiety, PTSD and more.
School-aged children diagnosed with Autism and/or anxiety are now able to be evaluated in a setting that is comfortable for them, which gives the provider a better overall picture of their behavioral health. Telepsychiatry services in schools is helping parents care for their child’s needs without resorting to emergency care or outpatient clinics.
Emergency departments are often not equipped to handle psychiatric evaluations, at least not in a timely way. This, unfortunately, leads to admittance, transfers and discharge delays or the patient leaving the ER out of frustration. Many hospitals do not have psychiatrists on staff who are trained to handle severe mental illness and are, therefore, not equipped to assess and treat mental health patients. Emergency departments that utilize telemedicine are able to extend their capabilities by outsourcing behavioral health assessments and treatment plans to an offsite psychiatrist.
Nursing homes are beginning to use telepsychiatry to treat their patients from the comfort of their facility. Most facilities do not have a psychiatrist on staff to handle mental health crises and find it difficult to employ local psychiatrists to handle the ongoing psychiatric care needed. A telemedicine platform is becoming essential in the treatment and management of their clients.
Many different states are beginning to use telehealth, specifically telemedicine psychiatry, in their state-run correctional facilities. Inmates often require ongoing psychiatric care and urgent psychiatric care, and telepsychiatry eliminates the need to transport inmates to other locations for care. This provides an element of safety for the inmates and staff and ensures inmates receive care faster.
Many states require that Medicaid and Medicare cover the cost of telepsychiatry visits, especially in remote or rural areas where there is limited access to care. Telemedicine psychiatry can prevent costly transfers or hospitalizations of behavioral health patients. Since insurance carriers cover these costs, it also leads to patients being more receptive to seeking out and receiving timely care, which prevents emergency mental health crises that are costly to the individual, hospital and community.
According to the American Journal of Psychiatry, “Contracting with an off-site telemedicine-based collaborative care team can yield better outcomes than implementing practice-based collaborative care with locally available staff.”
The use of video conferencing telepsychiatry is proven to meet patients’ needs for comfortable, convenient, affordable and ongoing psychiatric treatment. Adult patients are stating that the treatment is affording them better treatment plans, which leads to better outcomes of the management of their mental health. Children and college students that are currently displaced from their campuses are also benefiting from telepsychiatry. Parents are able to connect their children with psychiatric and psychological care providers and young adults have fewer barriers to get treatment for their depression and anxiety due to the current pandemic.
If you’re looking to implement your own telepsychiatry solution, VeeMed provides options to providers managing patients who are physically unable to make appointments or have previously been reluctant to seek help. Join countless other providers in their journey to embrace telemedicine psychiatry and enhance your practice and patient satisfaction rate. VeeMed is ready to show you how you can transform the way you deliver psychiatric and psychological care.
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