Telemedicine is the process of providing health care from a distance through technology, often using videoconferencing. Telepsychiatry, a subset of telemedicine, can involve providing a range of services including psychiatric evaluations, therapy (individual therapy, group therapy, family therapy), patient education and medication management.
Telepsychiatry involves direct interaction between a psychiatrist/psychiatric Nurse Practitioner and the patient. It also encompasses psychiatry supporting primary care providers with mental health care consultation and expertise. Mental health care can be delivered in a live, interactive communication.
Video-based telepsychiatry helps meet patients’ needs for convenient, affordable and readily-accessible mental health services. It can benefit patients in a number of ways, such as:
While some people may be reluctant or feel awkward talking to a person on a screen, experience shows most people are comfortable with it. Some people may be more relaxed and willing to open up from the comfort of their home or a convenient local facility. Also, this will likely be less of a problem as people become more familiar and comfortable with video communication in everyday life.
Telepsychiatry allows psychiatrists to treat more patients in distant locations. Psychiatrists and other clinicians need to be licensed in the state(s) where the patient they are working with is located. Our licensed mental health providers can see patients located in California or Nevada.
Although telepsychiatry has the disadvantage of the patient and provider not being in the same room, it can create enhanced feelings of safety, security and privacy for many patients.
There is substantial evidence of the effectiveness of telepsychiatry and research has found satisfaction to be high among patients, psychiatrists and other professionals. 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.
Research has also found that overall experiences among all age groups have been good. There is evidence for children, adolescents and adults regarding assessment and treatment (medication and therapy). There are even people for which telemedicine may be preferable to in-person care, for example people with autism or severe anxiety disorders and patients with physical limitations may find the remote treatment particularly useful.
Telepsychiatry has been found especially effective with respect to the treatment of PTSD, depression, and ADHD.