Today, it seems we live in two worlds: in our primary life and in our virtual life, using technology to stay in contact with our friends and family and to get the services we need quickly. Such is also the case when it comes to medical treatment, especially in the behavioral health arena. While telehealth has been around for decades, it’s becoming a more prominent and essential part of medical care as we know it. If you’re suffering from substance abuse or other behavioral health problems, the first difficult step toward finding treatment may be the perceived stigma you feel from society. But that doesn’t have to be the case. With telehealth, you can receive care from the privacy and convenience of your own home; if you’re on the go, the treatment can come with you.
For starters, let’s discuss the difference between telehealth and telemedicine. Did you know there is a difference? Telemedicine is a more narrowly defined term that only involves the online consultation with a health provider, while telehealth includes those services in addition to other resources such as education, self-management exercises, and other tactics.
A report out of London that talks specifically about the use and effectiveness of telehealth in treating mental illness showed that some of the benefits and efficacies of telehealth include:
- Help with medication adherence, through phone calls and/or phone prompts that reminded patients to take their medicines, which created a positive outcome where more patients took their medications on time
- An increased number of patients showing up for their appointments, again because they were reminded through phone prompts
- Reduction in the number of emergency room visits and hospitalizations
- The ability for practitioners to reach and treat more people
- The ability to personalize the treatment for each person based on their starting point and how well they are doing with the planned treatment.
One of the biggest hurdles we see that disappears with telehealth is the time and distance variable. Providers can now see patients who live in rural areas or who may not be able to take time off work on a regular basis to go to a doctor’s office. Nearly 80 million Americans live in a mental health professional shortage area, according to the U.S. Health and Human Services Health Resources and Services Administration, and now those people can have access to treatment, too.
And most importantly, telehealth has been shown to work in the treatment of behavioral health. In an article published by the American Psychological Association, they cite several studies that support this statement: “A 2008 meta-analysis of 92 studies, for example, found that the differences between Internet-based therapy and face-to-face were not statistically significant (Journal of Technology in Human Services, Vol. 26, No. 2). Similarly, a 2009 review of 148 peer-reviewed publications examining the use of videoconferencing to deliver patient interventions showed high patient satisfaction, moderate to high clinician satisfaction and positive clinical outcomes (Clinical Psychology: Science and Practice, Vol. 16, No. 3).”
So if you’ve been putting off treatment because you think it’s a time crunch, your life is too busy as it is, or you simply can’t make it to appointments, then telehealth is for you. If you prefer a discreet and convenient approach, telehealth is for you too. And yes, it’s covered by insurance.
To learn more or to contact us to get started, check out our info for prospective patients.
Marcella McCarthy is a seasoned writer specializing in health and healthcare writing and experienced in digital and brand strategy. She excels at taking complex medical/healthcare information and making it easy for others to understand. Marcella holds a master’s degree from Northwestern’s Medill School of Journalism, has taught writing at The University of Miami as an adjunct professor, and contributes to the Miami Herald.