Why Telepsychiatry is the Future of Modern Healthcare
Study after study has shown an increase in the use of telemedicine across the country. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, for example, utilization of telehealth for Medicare primary care visits increased from under one percent to a whopping 43.5% of primary care visits in April 2020. Medical professionals, medical schools, medical boards, and state administrators are rapidly coming to understand the myriad benefits of telepsychiatry. Below, the dedicated telepsychiatry specialists at Orbit Health explore some of the reasons why telepsychiatry is such a growing practice and why it is here to stay.
Bringing Access and Expertise to All Locations
The principal benefit of telepsychiatry is the elimination of geographical barriers to treatment. Nearly half of all counties in the United States have limited or no access to psychiatric care specialists. Telepsychiatry brings psychiatric care specialists of all areas of expertise to any office that can sustain an internet connection. No longer do patients have to rely on who happens to live nearby or be forced to drive hundreds of miles just to see a single psychiatrist. Nor do they have to see a general practitioner when there is an expert in their particular issue somewhere on the other side of the state with an internet connection. The internet age is defined by increased access and eradication of the barriers of communication, and telepsychiatry is the next evolution of that movement.
Redefining Patient Expectations: Cost, Time, Administrative Hassle
Patients, by and large, hate going to the doctor. It’s expensive, they have to take the day off of work to travel to the medical office, and they often wind up in waiting rooms for an hour or more. Doctors often come across as rushed when they do finally walk into the room. Telepsychiatry alleviates many of these issues.
Patients no longer have to commute to a remote location to get to the only medical office in the area with a psychiatrist. They no longer have to sit in a crowded waiting room, in many cases embarrassed by the stigma of obtaining mental health care. Telepsychiatry appointments are set to be at a specific time, and all they need to do is log on at the appropriate time. If their clinician does need to cancel last-minute, the patient has not wasted the entire day traveling to the medical office just to turn around and do it again next time. Patients report increased levels of satisfaction with telemedicine, and studies show increased patient retention with ongoing programs. The reduced cost, time, and hassle lead to patients actually sticking with their programs, which in turn leads to more effective care and better health overall.
Mental Healthcare Especially Suited to Telemedicine
Telemedicine across all areas is increasingly utilized and increasingly useful. There are, of course, some limitations; emergency medical care requiring physical intervention simply cannot be performed via telemedicine with current technological limitations. Psychiatry, however, is a uniquely non-physical field. While access to medicine and diagnostics such as MRIs does require physical proximity, on the whole, the practice of psychiatry can be conducted almost entirely via telemedicine. So long as clinicians provide telepsychiatry patients with the same level of care and attention they provide patients in person (and, indeed, patients are finding that telemedicine providers are actually more attentive), almost every aspect of the practice can be conducted remotely.
Study after study has shown that telepsychiatry is just as effective, if not more effective, than in-person care. With increased access and reduced administrative hurdles, patient retention is actually higher with telepsychiatry. With increased retention comes more effective care and healthier patients overall.
Patients Will Choose Service Providers Based on Access to Telepsychiatry
As patients come to appreciate the ease of use, access to a wide variety of specialists, reduced cost, reduced travel time, and increased control over their schedules, patients will start to prioritize their choice in healthcare providers based on providers’ use of telepsychiatry. If a patient can get a targeted separation anxiety specialist to help with a divorce without the need to drive across state lines, why would they settle for a medical office restricted to the general practitioner who happens to be located nearby? Patients present extreme levels of satisfaction with telepsychiatry and other telemedicine services, and once you expose patients to the high levels of care and effectiveness available through telepsychiatry, they will come to demand it from all of their care providers.
If you are a healthcare provider or employer who would benefit from a variety of dedicated, effective, and practiced psychiatric care specialists, reach out to Orbit Health to discuss your options for telepsychiatry today.