What is Telepsychiatry?
Telepsychiatry is a subset of telemedicine, which is a way of providing healthcare communication other than in-person visits, such as videoconference or telephone. Telepsychiatry provides a range of services including psychiatric evaluations, patient education, therapy and management of medications.
Benefits of Telepsychiatry
Video-based telepsychiatry in particular meets important needs that may not be possible in-person, especially now during a global pandemic. Patients have needs for convenient, easily accessible and sometimes quick mental health services. Many other benefits of telepsychiatry, which include the following:
- Bringing care to the patient’s location instead of them traveling*
- For adults, this means they can have a telepsychiatry appointment on their lunch hour or from home in the middle of a busy day.
- For adolescents and children, they can log on in the safety and comfort of their own home, whether in their bedroom or even a playroom. This personal environment will help them feel more relaxed and open up while speaking with an online psychiatrist or therapist.
- Improving access to more mental healthcare services that might not otherwise be available due to a patient’s distant location
- Improving continuity of care and follow-up
- Filling prescriptions
- Reducing need for time off work, childcare services and travel time and costs required to attend in person visit
- Reducing transportation barriers, such as lack of transport to and from appointments
- Reducing trips to the emergency room for emergency mental healthcare
- Reducing delays in care with faster and easier access
- Reducing barrier of mental health stigma
Some people may feel odd talking to an online therapist through a screen or monitor; however, research has shown that most people are comfortable with telepsychiatry, and the practice of online meetings is becoming more commonplace in all areas of life.
Although telepsychiatry has the perceived disadvantage of the patient and psychiatrist not being in the same room, it can create enhanced feelings of safety, security and privacy for many patients. Once a connection and trust is established, the possibility of moving to in-office visit (for local NJ residents) is a possibility, if preferred.
*Online psychiatrists and other clinicians must be licensed in the state(s) where the patient is living. State licensing boards and legislatures view the location of the patient as the place where “the practice of medicine” occurs.
Is Telepsychiatry Effective?
There is a large amount of evidence supporting the effectiveness of telepsychiatry. Patients satisfaction has been found to be high, as well as psychiatrist and other mental healthcare professionals. Research has also shown good overall experiences among all age groups. Telepsychiatry has been found to equal in-person care in these areas:
- Quality of Care
- Patient satisfaction
- Diagnostic accuracy
- Treatment effectiveness
APA Position Statement on Telemedicine in Psychiatry
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 (APA Committee on Telepsychiatry, Approved February 2018).
The ADHD, Mood & Behavior Center is always available to help you, whether providing resources or visits with an online psychiatrist or online therapist. Contact us with questions and concerns or to make an appointment.