What is Telepsychiatry?
Telehealth, or telemedicine allows for providers to connect with patients at a distance often through the use of mobile technology. Telepsychiatry is an extension of telemedicine capabilities, specifically, telepsychiatry references services like therapy (family, group, individual), patient mental health education, medication management, and psychiatric evaluations. Or, telepsychiatry can be used for consultation from mental health experts to primary care providers. Mental health treatment, mainly, does not rely on physical examinations and relies on the ability for medical providers and patients to connect on an emotional level and to have productive conversations about their mental and emotional state. Therefore a secure videochat platform is the perfect tool for mental healthcare.
Top 10 Benefits:
- Higher rates of patient engagement
With the global pandemic ongoing, the idea of a traditional doctor’s office has become less than ideal for many patients. A contactless experience is becoming more popular and telemedicine provides the solution to many people’s concerns. With over half of the United States hospitals having telehealth capabilities, telemedicine will continue to grow and be a part of standard practice.
For behavioral health patients, telepsychiatry options might be even more appealing, as so many mental health patients face stigma in traditional settings. Recent studies show that 74% of US patients said they would use telehealth services and other studies have said that children respond better to telepsychiatry appointments rather than a face-to-face interaction.
- Healthcare providers and patients enjoy the convenience of telepsychiatry
With quality care just a video call away, patients and providers can set up calls and sessions from the safety and comfort of their homes or practices. These appointments can be easily scheduled outside of business hours and can be delivered on any preferred mobile device. Not to mention, telepsychiatry is especially great for those that are mobile-challenged, or those that cannot get to the doctors easily.
- The cost savings offered by telepsychiatry are too great to ignore.
- Patients save money on gas
- Medicaid can offer telehealth reimbursements
- Diverting patients from Emergency Departments. Each avoided emergency department visit garnered cost savings ranging from $309 to more than $1,500.
- In a 2016 study, it was estimated that utilizing telepsychiatry for 16 sessions of CBT over the course of 20 weeks saved a clinic about 2,025$ per patient.
- There might be upfront costs with telepsychiatry, but the costs balance out depending on the population served.
Mebs Counseling Increases 100+ Encounters In One Week Using Telehealth
Mebs Counseling began delivering behavioral health services almost twenty years ago, providing children, families, adults and couples with evidence-based behavioral health and substance abuse wrap-around services in the Northern Kentucky area.
Mebs Counseling is unique in that most of their services and support are provided outside of the clinic. They work across schools, institutions, and off-site centers, often through a team approach that engages multiple caregivers for a single patient. While many of these sessions are conducted in person, Mebs Counseling needed a way to help ease connections between patients and caregivers through a remote care option like Azalea Health’s telehealth.
- Patients and providers can optimize their time
A large reason patients miss their appointments is because of the struggle to schedule the initial appointment. Telepsychiatry visits can reduce the need for time off work and the need for additional childcare services.
- Patients enjoy improved healthcare outcomes, especially in rural areas
Rural patients have limited access to care in rural areas, period. Telehealth closes the gap of inaccessibility. With increased drug use, and limited access to care, rural patients will benefit greatly from telepsychiatry opportunities. Telepsychiatry reduces potential transportation barriers, like bus/car access, and eliminates long drives. It is no wonder that the three states that have the highest telemedicine adoption rates are Alaska, Arkansas, and South Dakota.
- It can help integrate behavioral health care and primary care, leading to better outcomes
Telemedicine can aid the integration of behavioral healthcare and primary care, allowing for smooth transitions into clinics and hospitals who normally do not have a separate behavioral health unit. Mental health specialists can meet via a mobile device and help primary care doctors with behavioral health questions and training. Additionally, telepsychiatry can serve as an alternative to a fully encompassed behavioral health unit.
- Reduces ER visits
Studies show that preventative mental health care reduces the amount of Emergency Room use. According to a study on the Geisinger Health Plan, patient readmissions were 44% lower over 30 days and 38% lower over 90 days, compared to patients not enrolled in the telemedicine program.
- Continuity of care
Additionally, time between appointments can be reduced, creating a better continuity of care. Round-the-clock availability of psychiatrists and therapists allows for continuity of service and solidifies a solid on-going provider-patient relationship. The follow-up process, too, can be made easier.
- Alleviates the shortage of mental healthcare professionals
In the past, mental healthcare was not a prominent focus in the healthcare industry. However, as societal culture changes, and as awarness for mental health comes into the spotlight, many are realizing that patients need better access to mental health treatment. If anything, the global pandemic has embodied the need for better care. Yet, because of the shortage and because of remote patient access, many struggle to receive face-to-face mental health treatment.
Now with a tool like telehealth, telepsychiatry can help shape care moving forward. Patients now have the opportunity to speak with a mental health professional, even if they’re states away.
- Aiding addiction
The opioid crisis has grown in the US over the past decade, especially in impoverished rural communities- those that already struggle with access to care. Given these troubling circumstances, many have pushed for better treatment programs and services.
Telepsychiatry allows providers to cast a wider net and reach out to substance abuse patients and offer counseling, therapy, and drug screenings. The government has made pushes to give grants to telemedicine programs in states like Virginia, Tennessee, and Kentucky- regions that are highly afflicted by drug addiction.