Once upon a time, telemedicine was a simple remote-access physical exam. Doctors would visually examine patients and listen to their symptoms, then prescribe an antibiotic or recommend they visit an urgent care center.
Luckily, we live in more sophisticated times now – and using telemedicine for mental health treatment is becoming a valuable option for behavioral health.
Overcoming Barriers to Care
Why is virtual care so beneficial in the field? Consider the circumstances of many patients under therapeutic care. Many have limited or no transportation. They may live in a halfway house, a remote location or be dealing with a comorbidity that makes it difficult to attend in-person appointments. Often these patients are unable to sustain the consistent care relationship they need due to a lack of stability.
Other patients are reluctant to seek mental health counseling because of the perceived stigma. Even when they do have the transportation and funds necessary for care, they fear being spotted entering a psychiatric clinic. Many will avoid seeking treatment to avoid their friends and coworkers learning of their illness.
Why Telemedicine Can Help
Behavioral health telemedicine can bring these patients the continuous care they might not otherwise have. In fact, doctors using telehealth psychiatry often find they can reach more patients who need help.
Attending therapy from home can take away the fear of stigma for some patients; the therapists can benefit by seeing the patient in their home environment. Patients with changing residences and uncertain transportation can access care wherever they are and maintain a long-term relationship with one clinician. No matter how the patient’s life situation fluctuates, doctors can have direct access to patients on a regular basis, observe behaviors, explore solutions and prescribe treatment.
Mental health telemedicine may seem new, but it’s changing the game for behavioral health. By carrying the benefits of telemedicine into psychiatrity, GlobalMed is bringing care to the people who need it most.