Telepsychiatry (Telehealth) is a way to deliver mental health treatments from a distance. Advancements in communication technology and the loosening of restrictions have greatly expanded the availability of this service. This is accomplished through the use of videoconferencing tools that allow for interactive, two-way, real-time communication.
What is Telepsychiatry?
Telepsychiatry is a subset of telemedicine, and has the capability to deliver a board array of behavioral health services such as psychiatric evaluations, medication management, therapy (individual, group and family) as well as patient education.
The fact that telepsychiatry allows for direct communication between patients and their therapists creates a powerful tool. Behavioral health care is now available to be delivered in a live, interactive style of communication over great geographical distances. The use of video-based telepsychiatry tools meets the needs of many patients. These kinds of healthcare services are convenient and readily-accessible for most individuals.
Benefits of Telepsychiatry?
There is a growing body of evidence that shows that telepsychiatry improves outcomes and creates greater patent satisfaction. These medical services can:
- Not have to worry about transportation issues.
- Reduce unnecessary trips to an ER (emergency room.)
- Allow individuals to access care from their location.
- Allow patients to reduce the need for time off from work, find daycare, etc.
- Improve overall access to psychiatric care, especially for patients who live in underserved areas.
Telepsychiatry gives behavioral health providers more opportunities to meet the needs of their patients. Travel time to a healthcare provider’s center or practice is no longer an issue. The use of this service greatly expands people’s access to mental health treatment.
There are treatments that telepsychiatry is unable to deliver at a distance through teleconferencing systems. For example, treatments for depression like Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation would still require an office visit. Otherwise, telepsychiatry is an FDA approved treatment option. The use of newer video conferencing tools means that mental health clinicians can now provide diagnosis and treatment options for a variety of behavioral health conditions. All of which can occur without an in-person office visit.
In general, these are the steps for starting a telepsychiatry session:
 Read and submit our online telepsychiatry forms. These include patient consent, background information and mental health rating scales.
 Communicate with our practice in order to set up a time to talk to our mental health professionals.
 Participate in our telepsychiatry session. This is completed through video conferencing technology. A patient needs to use a computer, tablet or smartphone that has an internet connection.
 After the telepsychiatry session, communicate with our office in order to schedule the next session or help fill a prescription.
Regulatory and Licensure Questions:
There are still medical licensure issues that providers and patients should be aware of. Typically, healthcare providers are only licensed in the state that they reside and practice in. However, the telepsychiatry can deliver mental health services far beyond a state’s border. The technology can allow for the delivery of medical services, but from a regulatory standpoint; this is not allowed.
Traditionally, healthcare professionals need to be licensed in the same state where they are delivering services and treating patients. However, the new telehealth technology does not fit this model. Some states have created interstate compacts that allow mental health providers to provide services to patients in multiple states. But this process is complicated and expensive.
For specific questions about behavioral health concerns, please reach out to Emerald Psychiatry & TMS Center. They offer a variety of mental health therapies including TMS (transcranial magnetic stimulation), adult psychiatric care and medical management services. Recently, they have expanded their services to include the convenience of Telepsychiatry.
In order to contact them through email, please click HERE. To speak with them directly, patients should call their main office phone number at 614-580-6917. Emerald Psychiatry & TMS Center is proud to provide experienced and effective behavioral health services throughout Central Ohio.
Contributor: ABCS RCM