Telepsychiatry

Telepsychiatry, another aspect of telemedicine, also utilizes videoconferencing for patients residing in underserved areas to access psychiatric services. It offers a wide range of services to the patients and providers, such as consultation between the psychiatrists, educational clinical programs, diagnosis and assessment, medication therapy management, and routine follow-up meetings. Most telepsychiatry is undertaken in real-time (synchronous) although in recent years research at UC Davis has developed and validated the process of asynchronous telepsychiatry. Recent reviews of the literature by Hilty et al. in 2013, and by Yellowlees et al. in 2015 confirmed that telepsychiatry is as effective as in-person psychiatric consultations for diagnostic assessment, is at least as good for the treatment of disorders such as depression and post-traumatic stress disorder, and may be better than in-person treatment in some groups of patients, notably children, veterans and individuals with agoraphobia.

There are a growing number of HIPAA compliant technologies for performing telepsychiatry. Our platform at Sigma-Pi Healthcare is HIPAA compliant and is extensively used for telepsychiatry.

In April 2012, a Manchester-based Video CBT pilot project was launched to provide live video therapy sessions for those with depression, anxiety, and stress-related conditions called InstantCBT. The site supported at launch a variety of video platforms (including Skype, GChat, Yahoo, MSN as well as bespoke) and was aimed at lowering the waiting times for mental health patients.

The momentum of telemental health and telepsychiatry is growing. In June 2012 the U.S. Veterans Administration announced the expansion of the successful telemental health pilot. Their target was for 200,000 cases in 2012.

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