Telemedicine and psychiatry seem like a natural fit, and in many ways, they are. Because care is provided through patient-to-provider interactions, telehealth video visits lend themselves well to psychiatric care. If that telehealth tool has integrated features like e-prescribe, then it could be a powerful supplemental tool for a psychiatry practice, especially through COVID-19.
However, not all telehealth software is made equal. Finding the right tool for your practice will depend on what you want to achieve with it. Do you just want a barebones software that lets you conduct HIPAA compliant video visits? Do you want a solution that integrates more into your complete clinical workflow?
This article examines the telemedicine features that are well suited to psychiatrists and will also take a look at the impact of telemedicine on mental health specialties.
Telehealth Software Features for Psychiatrists
HIPAA Compliance and Security
Due to the unique nature of video visits in healthcare, your chosen telehealth system must meet particular requirements for HIPAA compliance. Because of the rapid adoption of telemedicine services due to the pandemic, some restrictions were softened or lifted on a temporary basis. Make sure that the software you use is compliant with current HIPAA standards.
Cloud Based Software
Your telehealth platform should allow you and your patients to conduct appointments from anywhere via mobile device, tablet or web. This will improve accessibility for patients while providing additional flexibility for providers. However, it is also important that this cloud based software is simple to access.
Requiring additional downloads on the patient’s end can bog down the process. Look for a telehealth software that lets patients into their appointments by clicking a link sent from your EHR’s appointment scheduling tool. From there, your patient can meet you conveniently from their iPhone or other device.
A secure, easy-to-use patient portal will make both your life and your patients’ lives easier. This would act as their central hub for securely messaging their psychiatrist, scheduling telemedicine appointments, managing payments, filling out forms and viewing their medical history. Telemedicine software with a good patient portal makes all of the work surrounding the appointment significantly easier.
Full Integration with your EMR & Quick Charting During Appointments
If your telehealth software is integrated with your electronic health record system, then you should be able to utilize a quick charting feature during appointments. This tool will allow you to access and edit your patient’s chart without having to close out of the appointment.
Throughout this time, your patient will still be able to see your face on screen. Therefore, you can discreetly input the necessary information with minimal disruption to the telehealth visit.
Overall, a telehealth software that is integrated with your electronic medical record will cut down on time spent switching between various applications. It will also eliminate the need to pay for a third party vendor. This would also open up the ability to more easily electronically prescribe medications after appointments.
Impact of Telehealth Software on Mental Health Specialists
Telehealth has been utilized in the mental health space long before the pandemic to great success. It has been proven to be as effective as in person care for the treatment of mental health disorders such as depression and anxiety. Telepsychiatry has established its place in healthcare by making mental health care more accessible in the midst of a global pandemic.
Telehealth is a powerful tool for mental health professionals even as COVID-19 restrictions have been lifted in many parts of the country. Some providers may like to continue practicing remotely. Others may want to offer telehealth as an alternative to in-person care. Regardless, telehealth gives practices a whole new level of flexibility in their offerings.
Patient attitudes have also greatly shifted towards acceptance of telehealth as a care option in just this last year alone. 77.2% of patients are more willing to try telehealth in 2021 compared to 59.85% in 2020.
Psychiatry and telehealth have long seemed like a natural fit. With improved telepsychiatry tools emerging as a result of the pandemic, the practice has become more mainstream and sustainable.