Have you adopted telemedicine into your psychiatry practice? If you haven’t, you should strongly consider doing so. Telemedicine in psychiatry isn’t new, but with technological advances in the tools that power telemedicine platforms, it has only become easier and more practical to integrate into your practice over time. 

The global pandemic has forced many healthcare practitioners to rapidly transition online, moving telehealth and telemedicine to the center stage. For health care providers, maintaining continuity of services is ever-more important during this turbulent time. This is particularly true for mental health practitioners and psychiatric services.

As we remain mindful of why many mental health practitioners are making the transition to telemedicine, it is useful to also understand that this shift carries with it significant benefits for psychiatric patients. These telepsychiatry benefits existed before the current state of affairs and will continue to exist long after this pandemic has passed. Let’s look at some of the top benefits of telemedicine in psychiatry for your practice.

Expand Access

One of the core benefits of telepsychiatry is that it improves patient access to care. Telemedicine is a powerful method to leverage technology to flatten the physical barriers that often exist between patients and timely access to care. Many patients face socioeconomic barriers that decrease access to critical behavioral health services. Whether it is because your patients don’t have access to transportation to get them to your practice, they have mobility issues due to comorbid conditions, or they simply don’t have the financial resources to regularly commute to their appointments, telemedicine offers a viable method for delivering high-quality integrated care to your patients.

An important factor in telepsychiatry is not only that it improves access to care generally, but it also improves access to high-quality care for those individuals that live in rural areas. Individuals living in rural areas may have a harder time accessing mental health services. Telepsychiatry allows your practice to expand its reach to encompass areas with little to no access to mental health services.1

While improving access to psychiatric care has important implications for your patients, it is also beneficial to your practice as a behavioral health provider. Augmenting your mental health delivery system with a telepsychiatry service component allows your practice to reach new patients that are looking for virtual care. This may be more important than ever, as an increasing number of people need access to mental health services, but due to social distancing guidelines, they are unable to do so. Incorporating telemedicine into your psychiatry practice enables you to tap into this growing population to expand your behavioral health services and provide exceptional care to even more patients!

Continuity of Services

Now more than ever, organizations are having to grapple with how to maintain continuity of services with social distancing measures in place. With so much uncertainty about how long these measures will remain in effect, many mental and behavioral health providers are approaching their service delivery model in an ad hoc manner.2 As a physician, you may be debating “what are telemedicine services that my patients are most in need of during this period?”

Integrating a dedicated telepsychiatry service component into your core delivery model ensures that during times of uncertainty you as a clinician can maintain continuity of services to your patients. Viewing the transition to telemedicine as an ongoing component of how you deliver mental healthcare services, rather than just a product of disruption, may open up avenues for strengthening how you deliver those services and how you blend telemedicine into your practice longterm.3

Using existing platforms like Beam is one of the easiest ways to integrate a telemedicine component into your mental health practice. With Beam, meeting with your psychiatric patients has never been easier. Our platform is intuitive for all users and can be operated on a mobile device ensuring that access to care isn’t hampered by the expense of the equipment. Using Beam will allow your practice to quickly integrate telemedicine into your toolbox without intensive investment in the development of a new platform. The Beam platform is HIPAA compliant and protects protected health information (PHI) with end-to-end encryption for a secured telepsychiatry session.

Lower Service Costs

One of the most promising aspects of telemedicine is that it has the potential to reduce the cost of care for your patients while also improving the quality of care and access to it. The low cost of telemedicine offers healthcare providers an alternative treatment venue that can reduce more expensive, in-person visits. 4

For organizations, offering telehealth visits can increase billable hours, while minimizing physician fatigue and burnout. Lower service costs enable organizations to center patient care and improve patient satisfaction. 

One of the benefits of using the Beam telemedicine platform is that there are no complicated fees associated with it for providers. The fee structure is simple. For each telehealth visit, the patient is responsible for a $10 fee. Providers pay nothing to use the platform. This simple, straightforward fee structure enables providers to cost-effectively deliver quality telemedicine. 

Reduce Delays in Care

One of the most powerful reasons to adopt telemedicine for psychiatry is because it reduces barriers and delays for patients receiving specialized care or therapy. Enabling timely access to mental health care to patients when they need it is critical. Telemedicine facilitates this by reducing barriers to psychiatric care. Patients can get access to their doctor in less time and with less downtime away from work or family obligations.5 

Using the Beam telehealth platform, patients can get access to care when they need it. Telehealth visits allow health practitioners to quickly identify acute cases and route them to the resources they need. At the same time, telehealth reduces the saturation of those acute-care resources, making them more available for the cases that really need them. While minimizing the number of walk-in cases that present at the emergency room for a high-cost visit, providers also free up those resources for the individuals who really need them. This allows for more timely and targeted application of healthcare resources, which are often in high demand.6

Meet Patient Demand

Consumer demand for telemedicine has continued to grow over recent years. No one can say with any certainty what the lasting ramifications are of the current pandemic and social distancing measures. What is clear is that there is a strong demand for increased telehealth services that seem likely to continue in the near term due to the reduced risk for both patient and physician.

Anxiety over the coronavirus and the economy have led to a surge in demand for access to mental health services. Calls to the Disaster Distress Hotline operated by Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) were 891% higher than March 2019, and over 330% higher than in February of 2020. Access to critical mental health resources like telepsychiatry is more important than ever before.7

Meeting this demand requires clear communication about what resources are available. With Beam, you’ll have a platform that integrates marketing and billing into a single, seamless package. This allows for enhanced contact between you and your patients, with fewer barriers and fewer frustrations.

Benefits of Using Beam

Beam offers organizations the ability to effectively offer telemedicine for psychiatric services in a seamless, intuitive experience. Beam is easy to use, making it accessible for anyone. This allows your practitioners to focus on helping patients, not managing a myriad of technical issues. At the same time, it gives your patients an intuitive platform through which they can connect with their healthcare provider.

An important factor to keep in mind when interacting with PHI online is security. Beam’s telemedicine platform is HIPAA compliant and uses end-to-end encryption to ensure your patient data is always protected.

Today’s dynamic situation has shed light on how important it is that healthcare providers remain agile. Beam’s platform will allow you to quickly get your telemedicine practice up and running, allowing you to maintain continuity of services to existing patients and begin treating new patients. With an uncertain future ahead, Beam offers psychiatrists the ability to continue to provide top tier care despite disruptions.

Closing Thoughts

Integrating telemedicine into your psychiatry practice is now more essential than ever. Given the disruptive nature of the current pandemic, access to mental health resources is more important than ever before. Psychiatrists have been forced to quickly pivot towards an online treatment modality, which has introduced any number of challenges.

Though the transition to telemedicine has been abrupt for many, there are some decided advantages that telemedicine can offer a practice even during normal times. Telemedicine for psychiatry offers patients increased access to care. This brings new opportunities for practitioners to reach out to new communities, while individuals in rural areas will benefit from easier access to care. Telemedicine appointments also reduce delays in care, getting individuals who need critical resources connected with them right away. It also keeps those critical resources available for the individuals who need them the most.

Incorporating a telemedicine component into your practice, or completely transitioning to telemedicine as the situation demands, doesn’t have to be as daunting as it may seem. The Beam Health platform can help your practice provide the same high quality of care, seamlessly, and cost-effectively. Our platform is HIPAA compliant, ensuring your patient data remains secure. Getting started with Beam is quick and easy and comes at no cost to providers.

Are you ready to integrate telemedicine into your practice? Get started with Beam today! You can easily request a demo or contact us for more information.

Sources:

  1. 1. https://www.ncsl.org/research/health/increasing-access-to-health-care-through-telehealth.aspx
  2. https://www.statnews.com/2020/03/17/telehealth-services-overwhelmed-amid-coronavirus-pandemic/
  3. https://www.aha.org/system/files/media/file/2020/04/advice-for-hospitals-quickly-implementing-telehealth-programs-during-covid-19-rural-case-study.pdf
  4. https://ltgov.georgia.gov/document/task-force/capacity-building-through-telemedicine/download
  5. https://business.kaiserpermanente.org/insights/telehealth/why-benefits-barriers
  6.   Langabeer, James R, Tiffany Champagne-Langabeer, Diaa Alqusairi, Junghyun Kim, Adria Jackson, David Persse, and Michael Gonzalez. “Cost–Benefit Analysis of Telehealth in Pre-Hospital Care.” Journal of Telemedicine and Telecare 23, no. 8 (September 2017): 747–51. doi:10.1177/1357633X16680541. 
  7. https://www.cnn.com/2020/04/10/us/disaster-hotline-call-increase-wellness-trnd/index.html