Technology has entered daily life and changed everything from how we view a phone to how we purchase a new lamp to how we watch movies or TV shows. Psychiatry isn’t immune. Although there will never be a replacement for the personalized interaction in the psychiatrist’s office between doctor and patient, there is growing use of technology in what is known as telepsychiatry.
Our providers use telepsychiatry in both live interactions with patients, as well as with recorded information that patients can use at any time.
What is telepsychiatry?
Telepsychiatry is a subset of telemedicine, a rapidly growing area of healthcare. Telemedicine is the process of providing health care from a distance through technology, usually through videoconferencing. Telepsychiatry allows our providers to deliver a range of their psychiatric services remotely to patients. These may include psychiatric evaluations, therapy (individual, group, or family), patient education, and medication management.
What are the benefits for patients of telepsychiatry?
Telepsychiatry will never replace in-person office contact, but sometimes that cannot be achieved. In these instances, using videoconferencing can meet patients’ needs for convenient, affordable, and readily accessible mental health services.
These are benefits of telepsychiatry for our patients:
- Improved access to patients in rural or distant locales
- Care delivered directly to the patient’s home or location when needed
- Helps to integrate behavioral health with primary care
- Reduces emergency room visits
- Reduces delays in care
- Improves continuity of care and follow-up
- Reduces the need for patients to miss work, arrange childcare, etc.
- Reduces potential barriers to treatment caused by transportation issues
- Reduces the stigma of “seeing a psychiatrist”
Is telepsychiatry as effective as in-office treatment?
These new methods of delivery psychiatric care have been shown to be very effective, and have a high rate of satisfaction among patients and professionals. Research has shown telepsychiatry to be equivalent to in-person care in diagnostic accuracy, treatment effectiveness, quality of care, and patient satisfaction.
This has proven to be true with all age groups. There is evidence that telepsychiatry is equally effective for children, adolescents, and adults when it comes to both assessment and treatment. For some groups, telepsychiatry may actually be preferable to in-person care. Examples of this possibility would be patients with autism or severe anxiety disorders, patients with PTSD and ADHD, and patients with physical limitations.
Our providers are excited by the potential telepsychiatry gives her to reach patients at times and locations that would preclude the possibility of an in-office appointment.