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What is Telepsychiatry?

Updated: Jun 29, 2022

Telepsychiatry is an innovative, effective, and affordable form of telemedicine that allows anyone, whether adult or child, to receive psychiatric assessment and treatment online. It uses telecommunications technology to deliver secure, HIPAA-compliant audio and video to ensure privacy while patients meet with providers remotely.

It removes all the barriers between you and getting the help and medicine you need. No wasting time in traffic and sitting in waiting rooms, telepsychiatry brings your mental health care to you through your computer or phone wherever you are.

A Brief History of Telepsychiatry

While it has become common more recently, telepsychiatry has a long history, dating back to the early days of telephone technology. It was first created in 1959 at the Nebraska Psychiatric institute which used videoconferencing to provide therapy as well as training for medical students. Shortly after, children first started receiving telepsychiatric services at the Massachusetts General Hospital in 1969, helping to expand to more the types of care provided.

By the 1990’s the practice had started spreading across the world, and with the prevalence of the internet in the 2000’s telepsychiatry was found to be an incredibly effective means of providing care.

Why Telepsychiatry for Mental Health?

First, and most important, there is a need. 20% of people in the U.S. will experience some form of mental illness in any given year, and a full 50% will experience mental illness during their lifetime. Such a high prevalence causes the need for a way to provide mental health care and psychiatric services to people while removing the barriers of travel time, cost, and stigma.

Those barriers are a large part of why less than half of the 52.9 million adults with any mental illness (AMI) received mental health services in the last year.

That’s where telepsychiatry comes in - it addresses all three of those barriers that individuals face when seeking care. Through HIPAA-compliant telehealth services patients are able to receive care from the comfort of their own home or anywhere they have an internet connection. Not only are patients able to have secure, private voice and video calls with providers, but they can also easily communicate via text message as needed.

With both ease of use and accessibility, it’s no surprise that telehealth is reviewed as overwhelmingly positive with many individuals preferring it to in-person treatment.

Effectiveness of Telepsychiatry

There is not only a robust amount of evidence showing that it is effective, but approval is extremely high among both patients and psychiatric providers.

The effectiveness is comparable, and in some cases has been found to be better, than in-person diagnosis and treatment.

The majority of research thus far has involved children, adolescents, and adults, finding that it is both effective and received positively when compared to in-person visits. While less voluminous, there is ongoing research into efficacy for elderly and geriatric patients as well as cross-cultural patients, with results being positive.

Populations where telepsychiatry is preferable to in-person sessions include autism, anxiety disorders, agoraphobia, those with physical limitations such as elderly/geriatric patients, and those where distance is an obstacle.

How Much Does Telepsychiatry Cost?

Another positive is that it is cost effective, being lower than both traveling physicians and traditional in-person appointments. In addition to having lower direct costs (i.e. payment to provider), the indirect costs of transportation (gas, subway, etc.) and time lost to travel are avoided as well.

Telepsychiatry in Raleigh & the Triangle

Get the treatment you deserve from the comfort of your own home at Raleigh Wellness & Behavioral health. We offer telepsychiatry services to Raleigh and the rest of the Triangle. Set up an online appointment today.

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