Telehealth, or Telemedicine, is a relatively new way of providing health care from a distance using interactive electronic and telecommunication devices. Since so many people have at least one personal communication device that allows for both audio and visual components, it has become a convenient way of accessing health care. With the shelter-at-home decrees during the recent COVID-19 pandemic in most states, telehealth has become a way of life for many health care providers.
Telehealth care makes it possible for our health care workers to stay safer as well as those with compromised health conditions. Telepsychiatry is behavioral healthcare through telemedicine. Since many mental health disorders are diagnosed by reported symptoms, telepsychiatry is particularly suited to mental health care. Even before pandemic safety measures were put in place, telehealth, and particularly telepsychiatry, was being explored and implemented in order to improve access to good mental healthcare for those in remote locations or those with disorders that make leaving a home location difficult.
Telepsychiatry makes mental health care more convenient. It provides more flexibility for busy patients as well as providing faster services in urgent situations. Telehealth offers a wider range of service options since patients do not need to be in the same location as their healthcare provider. Telehealth makes follow up appointments much easier and has increased the follow-up rates. Telehealth is more than just a phone call from a healthcare provider. It involves a face to face encounter even though the face of the other person is on a screen. A telepsychiatry appointment can be used for evaluation or diagnosis, medication management, therapy, or patient education.
Satisfaction is high for patients, psychiatrists, and other healthcare providers who have made use of telepsych. The American Psychiatric Association says, “Telepsychiatry is equivalent to in-person care in diagnostic accuracy, treatment effectiveness, quality of care and patient satisfaction. Patient privacy and confidentiality are equivalent to in-person care.” Telepsychiatry appears to be a good fit for people of any age as well. Most insurance companies cover telemedicine visits, including telepsychiatry. Check with your insurance company, and then find a healthcare provider who can meet your needs with telemedicine.