Telemedicine trends

If you?re a mental healthcare provider such as a psychologist, psychiatrist, therapist, counselor, or life coach, you know how important personal sessions are to your patients. It?s also important to stay on top of technology as it pertains to health care, and telehealth is a growing part of the industry. According to a recent survey, it?s projected that by 2018 the number of patients using telehealth services will be approximately 7 million, a far cry from 350,000 reported in 2013.

Indeed, 64 percent of Americans indicate they?re willing to visit their doctor via telehealth; and it appears mental health via telemedicine is no different. Since 30 to 35 percent of the chronically ill population also have a diagnosed mental illness, it makes sense to offer HIPAA compliant video conference sessions to your patients.

Additionally, it may be a means to reach patients who are unwilling or unable to keep their appointments: in an 18 month study done on online therapy 92 percent of telepsychiatry appointments were kept as opposed to 87 percent of face-to-face appointments, and in a similar study telepsychiatry appointments were less likely (3.5% vs. 4.8%) to be cancelled, and 4.2% vs. 7.8% less likely to be no-shows.

As a mental healthcare provider, what should you look for in advancing into telehealth services such as HIPAA compliant video conference sessions? Obviously security should be your main concern; because you?re dealing with a patient?s privacy you shouldn?t just start doing your sessions via Skype. Besides offering a HIPAA compliant contract to assure the privacy and security of your practice, make sure the browser used is fast and fail-safe. They should offer specific telemental health software, as outlined in the telemental health guidelines as set by the Telemental Health Institute.

Look for a telemedicine software company that offers a full package including vital options such as note-taking capabilities and interactive document sharing. Cutting edge companies will also offer peer-to-peer sessions, as well as group sessions for your patients just as you do in your brick and mortar business.

The main thing is to be proactive, because telemedicine is the wave of the future. By investing now in software for HIPAA compliant video conference sessions, you will assure your practice isn?t left behind as telehealth services advance. Isn?t that the whole point of offering help to your patients?