What Is Telepsychiatry?
Tele-psychiatry is the utilization of technology to speak to a mental health care provider or psychiatrist for a psychiatric evaluation or consultation.
There are many platforms that are acceptable modes of tele-psychiatry and laws vary state by state in terms of what types of communications can be used to conduct a psychiatric consultation.
The telecommunications that qualify for tele-psychiatry include video or audio conferencing, done via phone, laptop, or computer.
It's Now Easier To Connect With A Psychiatrist
Tele-psychiatry is convenient in and of itself. You are able to discuss sensitive topics with your psychiatrist using the ease and comfort of technology. This is helpful, especially for individuals suffering from certain psychiatric disorders that make social interaction difficult, such as depression, anxiety disorders, and social phobia disorders.
It is nice that technology is able to provide an extra layer of insulation from the symptoms of these disorders an individual may be struggling with.
Many psychiatry practices operate during standard business hours of Monday through Friday, typically 9:00 A.M. to 5:00 P.M. It is rare to get psychiatric consultations outside of these hours, unless you search very hard. This can be problematic if you work during these same hours which most people do.
It would be ideal to see your psychiatrist on a day off, maybe on the weekend, or after you get out of work during the week. It would be even more convenient if you were able to have a consultation with your psychiatrist “remotely” via phone, laptop, or computer. Just go home after work, get settled in and start your appointment, no waiting rooms, you are in the comfort of your own home.
Most people don’t take a day off from work to get an oil change. An oil change is very necessary, but we often find ways to work it into our schedule, either going before work, finding something on the weekend, for those that are really ambitious, going on a lunch break.
Laws Surrounding Tele-Psychiatry
The introduction of tele-psychiatry feels like a figment of the future of psychiatry practice and in a sense, it is, but it also isn’t. Telemedicine has been around for a little over ten years. Legislature has limited the access patients may have to these kinds of psychiatric treatments and with understandable reason, the convenience of such psychiatric services carves avenues for potential abuse, and so legally speaking, it has been heavily regulated.
However, with rapidly changing legislature, it is being reformed and allowing patients greater access to psychiatric care. The Ryan Haight Act enacted by the federal government in 2008, required physicians to conduct at least 1 in-person psychiatric consultation before prescribing controlled substances to patients.
However, just recently a new federal law was signed into effect that would no longer require the in-person consultation. The Special Registration for Telemedicine Act of 2018 would allow psychiatrists to prescribe controlled substances via tele-psychiatry services only, no in person consultation required, so long as that psychiatrist registered with the DEA. The DEA will work to finalize the law by October 24, 2019.
This means expansion of tele-psychiatry services. Patients suffering from mental illness may now have greater access to consulting with a psychiatrist. Legislature for the access of tele-psychiatry services vary from state to state, so if this is something you would be interested in, please contact our office to learn more.
We want to connect you with a provider. Our mental wellness is just as important as our physical health. Let us help you, contact us today.