The Neolithic Era’s invention of the wheel was a turning point in world history, but the real excitement came when humans saw what the wheel could do for us—the water wheel, the spinning wheel, and, of course, the automobile. The same can be said for telemedicine technology—great invention, but the real excitement comes when you see all its varied applications in healthcare today: Tele-ICU, Telenocturnist care, Teleneurology, and now Telepsychiatry.
Telemedicine is a perfect fit for the field of psychiatry. Telepsychiatry is the newest offering in our range of telemedicine solutions at Eagle—a much-needed component of well-rounded hospitalist programs today.
Making access easier
Mental illness affects one in five Americans, and yet millions of cases go untreated. According to a comprehensive 2013 HHS report, there were 11 million adults aged 18 or older (4.6 percent of all adults) who perceived an unmet need for mental health care, and 5.1 million of them did not receive any mental health services in the previous year.
Cases go untreated for a variety of reasons. Lack of insurance or other resources is one of them. But another major contributing factor is the nation’s shortage of mental health professionals. With more than half of the 3,007 counties in the United States lacking mental health professionals to provide local care, the vast majority of people in America lack easy access to mental health services. Hospitals and other healthcare facilities are left struggling to find ways to provide their communities with sorely needed psychiatric or behavioral health care.
Filling the gap
Eagle Telemedicine’s telepsychiatry solution helps fill the gap by offering remote access to a team of expert psychiatrists and psychologists anytime, anywhere. With Eagle’s telepsychiatry solution, psychiatrists and psychologists deliver real-time, face-to-face treatment using secure, HIPAA-compliant audio/video feeds. Patients receive mental health therapy and pharmacological support despite staff shortages or barriers to access.
Eagle’s telepsychiatry program brings qualified mental health practitioners to underserved markets—providing discreet treatment 24/7 for patients who were unable to obtain counseling. The solution includes on-call, after-hours and ED coverage, follow-up visits and ongoing clinical therapy, as well as pharmacological care.
The new frontier
Telepsychiatry programs not only improve access to mental health care, but they also decrease costs to patients, hospital systems, and communities. For example, one rural hospital traced 44 of the mental health patients who consulted with a telemedicine psychiatry solution, and the data showed a 54-percent decrease in ED visits. Also interesting is how mental health patients can be more at ease and forthcoming in a telepsychiatry visit. A recent U.S. News and World Report article quoted one provider: “[Patients] do better in response to this service, as opposed to being in a room with one to two adults who are pointing out what’s wrong with them. They open up more through this medium.”
The article called telepsychiatry “the new frontier” in mental health. At Eagle, we are proud to be part of it. Interested in learning more about starting a Telepsychiatry program? Contact Eagle Hospital Physicians for a free consultation.