About Telepsychiatry & Telepsychiatrists
What is telepsychiatry?
Telepsychiatry is the practice of an online psychiatrist or telepsychiatrist seeing a patient over a HIPAA compliant video platform rather than in the office.
What is a telepsychiatrist?
A telepsychiatrist is a licensed psychiatrist who sees patients over a HIPAA compliant video platform.
Who can practice telepsychiatry?
Any Psychiatrist who has completed medical school and psychiatry residency, and is licensed to practice psychiatry in the US can practice telepsychiatry. The psychiatrist must be licensed and insured to practice in the patient’s state of residence.
What is the difference between a telepsychiatrist or a regular psychiatrist?
There should be no difference between a telepsychiatrist (online psychiatrist) or a regular in-office psychiatrist. They should have the same qualifications and should follow the same guidelines and standards of care as if they were seeing the patient in the office.
How do I choose a Telepsychiatrist?
When choosing a telepsychiatrist, the same principles should apply as when choosing any other psychiatrist. The telepsychiatrist should be licensed and insured in your state of residence. It is reasonable to verify the qualifications of your telepsychiatrist. If the telepsychiatrist or online psychiatrist has a special interest in a particular condition (e.g. OCD) that may be a reason to pick that particular telepsychiatrist.
Traditionally, the use of telepsychiatry was restricted to remote regions where patients could not access a psychiatrist. However, it is becoming more and more common for patients to favor seeing an online psychiatrist or a telepsychiatrist to an in-office psychiatrist. Reasons for this are as follows:
- Development of cloud-based software has lowered the costs of equipment, and eliminated the need for complicated download.
- An increasing number of patients have access to laptops and high-speed internet.
- Telepsychiatrists or online psychiatrists are getting increasingly comfortable with the telepsychiatry model.
- Multiple papers have been published in the last ten years, demonstrating that seeing a telepsychiatrist or online psychiatrist can be as effective as seeing a patient in an office.
- Many telepsychiatrists believe that telepsychiatry is more effective in many cases than seeing an office psychiatrist because of increased patient compliance due to fewer no-shows, and patient convenience.
- There is higher potential to match a patient with the most suitable provider as the geographic location is less of a limitation.
- Many patients prefer to see a telepsychiatrist due to eliminating the travel time, exposure to doctors waiting rooms, perceive a greater sense of confidentiality and have a wider choice of provider.
- Affordable Electronic health records, e-prescribing, and e-labwork where a prescription can be sent by secure email to your pharmacy or laboratory (LabCorp ) makes seeing a telepsychiatrist a practical option.
- More people are just more comfortable with the use of technology.
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What conditions are treated by a telepsychiatrist?
A telepsychiatrist can treat all the conditions that an in-office can treat, although there may be some limitations. For example, if a patient has dementia she may have difficulty logging onto the computer or telepsychiatry platform, without assistance. A patient who is on a long-acting injectable must be willing to go to a local station to receive their injection, likewise, a patient on clozapine may need to go to a local clinic or pharmacy for vital signs.
Can I see my therapist in the office and see my telepsychiatrist monthly for telepsychiatry?
It is very common for patients to see their therapist weekly in person and to see their telepsychiatrist monthly over an online platform. There are many reasons for this- they may already have a relationship with a therapist and want to continue with the same person.
What services are provided by a telepsychiatrist?
A telepsychiatrist can provide multiple telepsychiatry services including psychiatric medication management, cognitive behavioral therapy, supportive psychotherapy, marital and couples therapy. There is less literature available on the use of telepsychiatry for psychodynamic psychotherapy. The use of telepsychiatry for psychoanalysis is considered experimental.
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Telepsychiatry is exactly the same as an in an office visit. Exactly the same rules, regulations and standards of care apply. Psychiatrists must be licensed, insured and certified in the State where they are practicing. They must follow APA guidelines and standards of care.
There is an increasing amount of research demonstrating telepsychiatry to be as effective as in-office visits and in some cases more effective. Reasons for high efficacy of telepsychiatry include patient having a greater choice in provider or specialist treatment with less geographic limitation and higher compliance rates due to easier access to appointments
Telepsychiatry is as safe & private as an office visit if practiced correctly. Psychiatrists must see patients via an encrypted HIPAA compliant platform. Notes must be stored on a secure cloud-based Electronic Health Records software. The same data security rules apply for Telehealth.
Telepsychiatry is favorable for people who want to see a particular provider but are limited by location, weather conditions, access to childcare, or who need specialist treatment. If you travel for work, if you simply dislike traveling to appointments and doctors’ waiting rooms, or you need evening or weekend appointments, telepsychiatry may be right for you.