Telemedicine is currently the hot topic in the medical field, and its rise to prominence has ushered in a new era of patient care. Anyone who’s followed the ascent and subsequent domination of digital platforms across various industries should not be surprised at this trend; Amazon did it first in the retail space, while Netflix practically dismantled terrestrial television in a matter of a few years. Telemedicine, while not a company like the previous two examples, is nevertheless still revolutionizing the medical industry in the digital age. The movement started in the 1960s, when doctors introduced patient care via telephones (hence the ‘tele’ prefix of the title). However, in 2018, medical professionals have a wide array of devices and platforms to choose from, which can aid with both regular telemedicine and telemedicine psychiatry.
Back when it was introduced, telemedicine was only designed to help remote patients with physical problems. However, as it has evolved throughout the decades, practitioners have seen the beneficial effects it can have on psychiatry patients, too. In the 1960s, there was much stigma surrounding mental health, so it’s unsurprising that telemedicine never developed to incorporate it. Over the last few decades, though, there has been sustained and invigorated interest around mental health and mental health issues, and the thick fog of stigma is slowly lifting. This has allowed companies to take advantage of telemedicine as a platform, and deliver world-class mental health therapy to patients around the country.
Telemedicine psychiatry, or telepsychiatry for short, can be utilized through a number of different devices, but it’s chiefly communicated via smartphones, tablets, and laptops/desktop computers. This immediately takes some of the intimidation away from the process, and helps the potential patient feel completely at home; mainly because they are at home! We all have preconceived notions of what psychiatry offices look and sound like, so some of us can be hesitant to admit we may be suffering and fully engage with the process. Telemedicine psychiatry removes those initial barriers very effectively.
Doctors have argued that, in some cases, connecting with a patient via a video link into the their home is actually preferable to meeting them in person at an office. It allows the doctor to see inside the patient’s personal life, and get a sense of them in their own environment. This is sometimes hard to ascertain in traditional doctor-patient meetings, as mental health is a tricky area to diagnose correctly; there is no one-size-fits-all treatment plan. Patients can react differently depending on their surroundings, and it’s normal for a patient to be overly anxious, cautious, or defensive when they first encounter a psychiatrist. Using a video link platform, the psychiatrist can immediately glean information that may have taken up weeks or months of their time to uncover through in-person appointments.
It’s important to point out that these video sessions aren’t just conducted over consumer services like Skype or FaceTime. Companies have been busy developing specific telepsychiatry platforms to best facilitate doctor-patient appointments, and there are a number of different options available. Most of these services introduce and execute a full-on patient plan, with continued care and careful monitoring of the patient for an extended duration of time. Many doctors have already praised telemedicine for its diagnostic benefits; it allows health professionals to keep a closer eye on patients, despite seeing them remotely, as they can work together with the patient to monitor symptoms, and have instant access to that information.
Telemedicine psychiatry has other utilities too. While it’s predominantly useful for patients looking to schedule appointments, it can also act as a useful middleman for certain psychiatric services. One prime example of this is emotional support animals, or ESAs for short. This new form of progressive therapy involves utilizing the constant presence and companionship of a pet to tackle the debilitating symptoms of mental disorders such as depression, anxiety, PTSD, and bi-polar disorder. The treatment has been wildly successful and has gained much traction in the U.S. with both patients and doctors alike. The key to availing of your own ESA is to have something called an ESA letter, which is a verified document from a medical professional confirming your need of an emotional support animal. Thanks to telemedicine, these are easier than ever to obtain; through sites like Moosh, you can do it all from the comfort of your own home and partner up with your ESA in no time at all.
It’s clear that telemedicine is changing the face of health care in the 21st century, for both physical ailments and psychological ones. While telepsychiatry is a few steps behind, there are major initiatives going on behind the scenes to bring on-demand mental health care to the masses. In due course, people will be able to manage and balance their mental health demands through a variety of platforms, be it cognitive behavioral therapy apps, or regular video appointments with their psychologists. The future certainly looks bright for telemedicine psychiatry.