Telepsychiatry: The Technology That Continues to Beat COVID
COVID-19 radically transformed our society and health care systems. Overnight, psychiatrists’ and doctor’s doors were shut and hospitals were beyond full capacity. Uncertainty overwhelmed millions as social distancing and isolation became the new normal. What were patients to do if the psychiatric and mental health services they needed were unavailable to them? Thankfully, telepsychiatry was pushed to the forefront of the evolving healthcare landscape.
What is Telepsychiatry?
In the midst of the global pandemic, telepsychiatry made it possible to provide necessary health care from a distance. A subset of telemedicine, telepsychiatry is the process of providing healthcare services such as psychiatric evaluations, therapy, and medication management through video-based technology. The use of videoconferencing gives psychiatrists the ability to interact directly with their clients from the comfort and safety of their homes.
Telepsychiatry appointments follow the same format and involve the same services as in-person treatment. Your telepsychiatrist will be able to create and implement specific treatment plans, prescribe medication, schedule follow-ups, and even refer you to other services. In other words, the only major difference between telepsychiatry and in-person treatment is location.
Although telehealth procedures have previously been used as temporary measures, for the most part, its wide-ranging benefits have exceeded patient’s expectations, developing a new normal in terms of mental health treatment. In the face of COVID-19, health care systems adapted almost immediately. Psychiatric facilities began to virtualize their operations at a rapid pace in order to meet the populations’ needs. Thanks to the unprecedented evolution of telepsychiatry, help was only a screen away for patients struggling with mental health.
Not only has telepsychiatry given patients the means to beat the effects COVID-19 has on mental health, but it also presents the following additional benefits:
When social distancing and isolation were enforced, telepsychiatry made it possible to receive treatment. Even beyond that, it gives patients living in more rural areas access to psychiatric services that would otherwise require travel.
Telepsychiatry allows working families to receive care without having to request time off or hire childcare services. In addition, research suggests that telepsychiatry availability helped to decrease the average length of a patient’s stay, which in turn reduced overcrowding in the ER. This made it more convenient for patients needing immediate emergency services to receive care.
Instead of having to go to separate locations for primary care and behavioral health care, patients can receive care from a single location: their home. This integration of care has led to better outcomes for those struggling with mental health.
Telepsychiatry has helped reduce the barrier of stigma when seeking help. Many people may feel uncomfortable or reluctant to seek healthcare at a public facility. Telepsychiatry provides the opportunity to seek treatment in a more relaxed, familiar setting.
Clearly, telepsychiatry has proven to be extremely effective in treating patients during the global pandemic. Patients and medical professionals alike have warmly welcomed this ever-evolving form of health care. Research indicates that telepsychiatry is equivalent to in-person care in terms of treatment, quality, and satisfaction.
In fact, telepsychiatry has proven effective in treating post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety, substance abuse, and depression. 82% of patients who have tried telepsychiatry would recommend it to a friend, while 85% of patients actually prefer it to in-person appointments. The facts don’t lie. For these reasons, the use of telehealth procedures has continued to develop even as the pandemic begins to diminish.
The Future of Healthcare
In response to COVID-19, the changes in telemedicine have been groundbreaking. Psychiatrists and medical professionals have the opportunity to maintain and develop telepsychiatry for the long term, reshaping the post-pandemic world. With the strategies and technology that have been implemented, healthcare workers continue to connect with patients and provide them with effective and convenient care. With that said, it is safe to say that the future of healthcare is bright.
Are You Ready to Give Telepsychiatry a Try?
Our team at Ocean Mental Health Services offers a wide range of behavioral health and mental wellness services that are designed with compassion and care. Whether you prefer virtual or in-person services, we are here to help you achieve your personal and health goals. Get in touch with us today to learn more or make an appointment. We look forward to meeting you soon.