therapist on telehealth appointment

What to Expect in Online Psychiatry Appointments

Before COVID-19 changed the way we all live, almost all psychiatrists in the United States had avoided telehealth. In fact, the National Institute of Mental Health reported that only five percent of the psychiatrists who participate in Medicare had ever provided a telehealth appointment. When the virus and subsequent shutdowns blocked safe access to in-person psychiatry appointments, all of this changed.

Today many psychiatrists offer telepsychiatry, typically through secure video conferencing. When COVID-19 is no longer a major threat and in-office psychiatry is safe again, telepsychiatry may remain the new normal. As patients and providers become used to the accessibility, convenience, and efficacy of telepsychiatry, the demand may remain high.

Improving Access to Psychiatric Care Providers

About one in every five people in the United States experiences mental illness each year, and many of them require psychiatric intervention. Unfortunately, 77 percent of the counties in the country are experiencing a severe shortage of qualified psychiatrists. Looking at these two statistics, it’s clear that millions of people in the country go without needed psychiatric care each year because they cannot access a provider.

One piece of the solution is that more doctors and advanced nurse practitioners must specialize in psychiatry. However, this crisis calls for other solutions as well. Increased adoption of telepsychiatry will allow more patients to see psychiatrists when they need it without leaving their homes. This innovation is especially important for people who live in rural areas, as some rural counties do not have even one psychiatrist.

As telepsychiatry has rapidly expanded, more people are able to access this care. When the pandemic lifts, the people who now have access likely will want to continue to get psychiatric care. This demand may mean that telepsychiatry is here to stay.

Specialized Care That is Convenient

Patients often see their primary care physicians when they believe that they need psychiatric medication. Parents also take their children to primary care pediatricians to get care for behavioral disorders, such as ADHD. Ongoing psychiatric care for both adults and children is better suited for a specialized setting, but the shortage of psychiatric professionals makes this unfeasible for many people.

As with other types of chronic or serious disorders, it’s often best that patients see psychiatrists who work as a team with their primary care providers. Telepsychiatry makes it easier for doctors and patients to connect with psychiatry providers. The psychiatrists and advanced nurse practitioners at each of our clinics work closely with primary care providers to ensure comprehensive care for our patients.

Telepsychiatry is Effective

Increased access and specialized care only matter is telepsychiatry is effective in helping patients. Based on decades of research, the American Psychiatric Association reports that video-based telepsychiatry is an effective way for patients to get mental health care. Our professionals use video conferencing in keeping with clinically-backed best practices.

The research shows that telepsychiatry is as effective as in-office psychiatry appointments in regards to patient outcomes. For some patients, telepsychiatry is better than in-person options because it is more convenient and accessible. These advantages make the continuity of care easier, which is vital for psychiatry.

Are you ready to see how telepsychiatry can help you? Contact us today.