Many psychologists and psychiatrists find it easier nowadays to treat patients without seeing them in the office. Today’s technology makes that easier than ever.
This new trend in the mental health world is known as telemedicine. Treating someone via an internet connection wouldn’t work for a traditional physician who needs to do a physical examination, but that’s not the case in mental health treatment. There are some restrictions to telepsychiatry. Psychiatrists, for instance, have to be licensed in the state where the patient lives. The internet connection between provider and patient has to meet strict criteria and be completely private. Skype and Facetime aren’t options. Other laws vary from state to state.
Patients Who Find It Hard To Leave The House
Many communities in rural areas have limited access to mental health treatment. Rather than driving many miles into more heavily populated towns or cities, many rural residents opt for telemedicine.
New moms also benefit from telemedicine. If they are suffering from post-partum depression they may find it hard to find a babysitter and find parking at a professional building. Someone suffering from agoraphobia, who fears leaving the house, can also be helped by telemedicine. Patients with depression or anxiety often find it difficult to shower, dress, and go to an office. Those with limited mobility also may have problems traveling to an appointment.
Why Is It Gaining Popularity?
In 2015, Medicare changed its rules about mental health treatment and opted to cover seven types of treatment. It only covers live video visits, however. The patient also needs to live in an area where there is a shortage of medical professionals.
More and more, the opioid epidemic is changing American medical treatment. Many addicts live in rural areas and finding mental health treatment is difficult. Telemedicine is the answer.
The Cost of Treatment
The big question is cost. It’s cheaper to use telemedicine than to incur the costs of physically going to an office. Telepsychiatry appointment charges generally run about the same amount as traditional appointments. However, not all insurance companies will pay for anything other than traditional treatment.
Despite the technology restrictions, telemedicine is emerging as a great way for many people to find the help they need with mental health issues. The next time you are looking for a psychologist or psychiatrist, ask your insurance company about telemedicine options.