Emerging as a powerfully effective method of providing medical care, telemedicine is also facilitating the rapid development of telepsychiatry and other specialty health fields. Initially jumpstarted by a substantial financial award from Duke Endowment to South Carolina's Department of Mental Health, telepsychiatry has now been the subject of hundreds of research studies that point to numerous advantages of telepsychiatry for patients as well as their doctors. As this practice has grown, telepsychiatry benefits have become more substantial.
5 Telepsychiatry Benefits Everyone Should Know
- Decreases travel time. Telepsychiatry eliminates travel difficulties that may prevent someone from receiving psychiatric care. Facilitating access to psychiatry services is one of the primary benefits for patients in underserved areas, who can then receive specialized help close to home — without having to travel long distances or be placed on extremely long waiting lists.
- Improves communication between doctors. Advanced technology supporting telepsychiatry improves coordination and communication between mental health professionals and primary care providers. When necessary, PCPs, patients and psychiatrists or psychologists can hold collaborative sessions via videoconferencing in order to enhance the efficacy of treatment plans and outcomes.
- Supports integrated patient care. Telepsychiatry and telemedicine benefits in general support the development of virtually integrated patient care models that can feasibly be deployed in rural areas. Telepsychiatrists implementing provider-to-provider and patient-to-provider consultations will have a far greater impact and reach than doctors treating clients one at a time.
- Delivers care to the elderly and disabled. Elderly or disabled patients frequently have difficulty traveling long distances because they suffer from clinical depression, agoraphobia and panic disorders that contribute to physical and mental deterioration. Advantages of telepsychiatry services include relieving the problem of traveling 50 or even 100 miles just to see a psychiatrist and accessing emergency psychiatric assistance when needed. Telepshychiatry also provides isolated, elderly patients with a support network that’s conducive to preventing isolation and depression.
- Provides comfort for those who suffer from extreme anxiety. Many people suffer extreme anxiety at the thought of visiting any type of doctor office. “White coat syndrome” is a very real phobia that can prevent those with mental illness or health issues from going through with a scheduled appointment. By easily accessing their “appointment” from the comfort of their home via teleconferencing technology, patients will receive the ongoing, specialized care they need.
Are There Disadvantages to Telepsychiatry?
Comparable to any newly recognized, medical treatment form, telepsychiatry has a few disadvantages that will eventually be eliminated by advancements in digital technology. Hardware/software “glitches” are inevitable occurrences when using videoconferencing but these glitches can be continuously monitored and addressed by computer technicians. Power outages may occur more frequently in rural areas or regions where seasonal weather changes are extreme. Also, small portions of the southern and western U.S. where the population density is far below average may not have high speed internet access.
Clearly, telepsychiatry benefits outweigh the drawbacks, since most of the problems obstructing the wide-ranging implementation of telepsychiatry are feasibly fixable. If you’re interested in receiving telepsychiatry services for your company, or want more information about the telemedicine industry, Iris Telehealth can help.