Back in another lifetime (the early 1980’s), I did a daily call-in psychology-oriented television show. As what I thought was a natural outgrowth of that experience, I did some training of other psychologists on connecting with clients remotely by video. At the time, there were not easy ways to do this, but I was sure they were just around the corner. It has taken 30 years, but now those methods are here and many of us use the technology regularly.
Skype, Google Hangouts, FaceTime and numerous other methods of connecting remotely with other people including voice and video transmissions have become part of the daily communication methods for many of us, especially young people who were raised with a smart phone in their hands. For some of those people, having contact with their therapist by such remote connection is natural and expected. For others, living in a rural location where the nearest mental health professional is far away, connection remotely may be crucial.
I recently noticed a post on LinkedIn wherein Dr. Steve Lower defined telemental health in the following way:
Telemental health utilizes live videoconferencing to provide regular appointments/interaction between mental health patients and physicians.
Medicare has begun to reimburse for telemental health services; Maryland Medicaid does so under certain conditions. Obviously, they are hoping to bring services to underserved locales. The easy availability of the technology has caused a huge spurt in the growth of this area. A Google search on the term ‘telemental health’ brought 54,900 hits.
Apparently, since my other articles on this topic, interest in this area has grown immensely. It is becoming much less the exception and more the rule.
At least one of our customers has recently talked about their expectation of growth using telemental health services. Where is your organization in the process of integrating these remote health services into your array? Do you see this as something you are ready to do? Do you already provide such services?
Please share your experiences, opinions and other comments below.