Telepsychiatry and Disability

In the United States, nearly 111 million people live in areas reported to have a “mental health professional shortage.” Roughly half of the counties in the country do not provide access to a single psychiatrist. Patients with cognitive disabilities are especially harmed by a lack of access to trained mental health professionals. Patients with intellectual disabilities struggle to find work, perform daily tasks without regular assistance, and maintain safe, effective lifestyles.

Telepsychiatry provides a means to resolve many of the issues preventing intellectually disabled people around the country from receiving the mental healthcare they need. At Orbit Health, we are dedicated to the provision of telepsychiatry services to patients in need across the country.

Telepsychiatry Expands Access to Healthcare for Patients With Cognitive Disabilities

Several recent studies have found that telepsychiatry is beneficial for people with cognitive disabilities. One of the primary benefits of telepsychiatry, borne out especially during the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, is the ease of access to mental health services. The healthcare system for years has struggled to provide adequate mental health care services to patients in need across the country. Some types of patients are neglected generally (patients in correctional or juvenile detention facilities, or those in rehabilitation centers), while others have suffered from lack of access due to the risk of coronavirus contamination and other communicable diseases. Many patients simply live in rural or other hard-to-reach locations, severely limiting access to mental health professionals.

Telepsychiatry can eliminate the barriers created by geographic locations and limited resources. A recent report from the ANCOR Foundation and United Cerebral Palsy, for example, found that telehealth provides “flexibilities . . . enabling providers to address challenges they’ve confronted for years, such as lack of specialized medical care and geographic disparities in the availability of services.” The pandemic exacerbated already problematic support systems for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, but telemedicine allows for the provision of specialized services without regard to contamination and logistical concerns.

Telepsychiatry also allows specialists experienced with particular mental disabilities to treat patients around the state or, indeed, around the country. Patients in need of addiction counseling, or who need a specialist knowledgeable in the treatment of developmental disabilities or intellectual disorders, can now receive treatment without a local medical office needing to recruit and fly in a dedicated expert. 

Telepsychiatry Reduces Stressors Associated With In-Person Care

Patients, especially patients with a disability, experience a variety of barriers to receiving medical care. Even leaving the home requires dealing with physical hurdles, possibly with the assistance of a caregiver. When caregivers are unavailable, their options are limited. Moreover, many patients suffer from mental health disorders such as social anxiety, agoraphobia, and other conditions that prevent them from going to busy places like hospitals for mental health treatment. Patients also face the stigma and ostracization often associated with seeking mental healthcare treatment. These issues are compounded when a patient needs to travel a long distance just to get to a location with a proper psychiatric care specialist.

Facing the hurdles and setbacks, many patients simply do not get the psychiatric care they need. Telepsychiatry allows patients to bypass the complications of visiting a (near or far) hospital for mental health care. Any medical office, or indeed even a home office setup, can be converted into a venue for expert psychiatric care. Patients no longer need to worry about the risk of catching an infection at a hospital, exposure to pandemics like the coronavirus in any crowded area, or the social pressures of public spaces.

Telepsychiatry Leads to Drastic Reduction in Emergency Room Visits

Numerous recent studies demonstrate the micro and macro benefits of the expanded use of telepsychiatry. One review of studies distributed by the National Center for Biotechnology Information, for example, found that expanded use of telepsychiatry for children and adults with intellectual disorders led to an astounding 96% decrease in emergency room visits among the studied groups. Patients were granted more access to nursing and medical staff in between in-person appointments, and greater access to psychiatric care professionals generally, which allowed for much more effective preventative care. The same model applied nationwide could do wonders to eliminate the mental healthcare shortage felt across the country.

Orbit Health Connects Your Medical Office With Psychiatric Professionals for Treatment of Intellectual Disabilities

If you are a health care provider, you can benefit from the consulting, diagnoses, and care of qualified psychiatric experts. With Orbit Health, you do not have to rely on practitioners already located in your area, nor do you have to worry about safety concerns such as coronavirus contamination.  Orbit Health will connect you with licensed, qualified psychiatric professionals, brought directly to any location that has internet access.  If you are looking for telepsychiatry services to care for patients with intellectual disabilities, contact Orbit Health today!