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Telepsychiatry illustration between a patient and a provider
Oct 14

What is telepsychiatry?

As many practices shifted gears to accommodate a pandemic world, telehealth became a “new normal” as a means to practice medicine safely. Now that restrictions begin to lift and patients stream in for regular well visits, it is easy to notice that virtual visits aren’t completely going by the wayside. For some specialties, it has been recognized that telehealth may be a better means to administer care in some scenarios (even if traditional visits will never fully go away). Mental health care professionals and psychiatrists continue to see a rise in telepsychiatry. Now, what is telepsychiatry and what benefits exist? Let’s find out.

What is telepsychiatry?

The American Psychiatric Association defines telepsychiatry as a subset of telemedicine that typically involves a range of services which can include the following:

  • Psychiatric evaluations,
  • Therapy,
    • Individual therapy,
    • Group therapy,
    • Family therapy,
  • Patient education, and
  • Medication management.

As telepsychiatry is defined as a form of telemedicine, it is important to clarify this means that this type of mental healthcare is performed at a distance through the use of technology. Providers often administer telepsychiatry visits through a telehealth, telemedicine, or videoconferencing solution.

This usually involves direct contact between a psychiatrist and a patient, but at times a psychiatrist may support another provider for a consultation. Through this type of care delivery, mental healthcare can be delivered live, or through recorded means for later review. Telepsychiatry opens the door for more accessible behavioral health care.

What are the benefits of telepsychiatry?

Many of the barriers that exist for patients when it comes to receiving mental health care come in the forms of accessibility, affordability, and the stigma that exists around mental healthcare in general. Telepsychiatry knocks down those barriers. It provides affordable, convenient access to care from a patient’s home. It eliminates the need for travel which cuts down on transportation costs and the need for others to know you are seeking treatment, unless you decide to inform them yourself.

Here are other benefits of telepsychiatry:

  • Improve access to care in areas where shortages of mental healthcare providers exist (typically seen in rural areas)
  • Deliver care to a patient’s location
  • Integrate care teams and specialties to improve health outcomes (i.e. mental healthcare and primary care)
  • Meet value-based care initiatives by decreasing readmissions and ER visits
  • Reduce delays in patient care
  • Increase follow-up for psychiatric care leading to better care continuity
  • Lower need for transportation to appointments or childcare during appointment times
  • Reduce stigma created around receiving mental healthcare treatment

Some patients will never choose a telehealth appointment over an in-person appointment, and that’s OKAY. In-person appointments are not going away, but accessibility to telepsychiatry appointments will continue to rise. This convenient care option may feel awkward at first for some, but it enables you receive fast, secure care when it is needed. Important note: rules still apply with telepsychiatry as they do with telehealth visits for other specialty types. For example, the patient still needs to reside in the state in which the provider is licensed in order to receive care. With that being said, that doesn’t mean the patient needs to be local to that provider.

Some people view not being in the same room as their care provider as a disadvantage, but utilizing telepsychiatry creates a feeling of safety, security, and privacy for  some patients. Are you a mental health provider or a psychiatrist looking to begin providing care virtually? MicroMD can help.

Are you looking for a telehealth solution? MicroMD Virtual Visits powered by Medpod provides convenient, streamlined care for your medical base. Learn more here or call us today at 800.624.8832.

About the author,
Savanna Adams

Savanna is the Marketing Communication Specialist at Henry Schein MicroMD. She schedules emails to clients, prospects, and VARs, manages social media accounts, performs SEO research, writes blogs and eBooks, and much more while helping to support the simple yet powerful MicroMD solutions.

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