Telemental health

In the 1960s, just 50 years ago, almost half of all medical appointments were conducted by the doctor physically coming to the patient’s house. By the 1980s, that number had plummeted to less than 1%. Although house calls made greater medical accessibility to people who were unable to leave the house, prevented the spread of contagious illnesses in public places like waiting rooms, and saved the doctors the cost of the facilities, concerns of inadequate hygiene and inconvenience to the doctors made the practice less common.

Today, many of the benefits that house calls used to provide to the medical industry have become available again through telehealth medical treatments, a new, but quickly growing, type of in home medical care.

What are telehealth technologies?
Telehealthcare uses internet, satellite, and telephone technology to leverage HIPAA compliant video conferencing software that allow doctors to consult patients in their own home remotely.

Does telehealth afford patients adequate privacy and safety?
As telehealthcare has become more commonplace, an organization of medical professionals created the American Telemedicine Association (ATA) to provide oversight to doctors practicing medical care remotely. The ATA developed standards and practices that must be followed in order for healthcare providers to treat patients using telecommunication technology. Those standards were developed with decades of research and observation to ensure that patients can be given adequate medical care although the doctor is not physically with them, and that HIPPA patient privacy requirements are met.

How common is telemedicine?
As the accessibility of remote communication increases, so does the occurrences of telemedicine. As of 2015, there over 200 telemedical providers in the United States. The Veterans Health Administration alone provides over 300,000 telehealth consultations every year. More than half of all US hospitals utilize some form of telemedicine, to treat patients and to collaborate with other medical experts across the country, so that patients get the most current care, regardless of their geography.

Don’t medical providers need to have physical contact with patients or in order to provide accurate treatment?
Some medical treatments do require a physical physical contact. Even in those cases, many times the maintenance and care for the patient’s treatment can be conducted remotely. For example, over 1 million Americans use cardiac monitors so doctors can remotely monitor their heart conditions.
One common type of telemedicine is telemental healthcare. Telemental healthcare is the treatment of behavioral health conditions through telecommunication technology. Because many behavioral health conditions do not require hands-on contact from the healthcare provider, telemental health care has become one of the fastest-growing forms of telemedicine.

How to patients get involved with telemedical healthcare services?
If you are interested in getting medical via telemedical technology, the first step is to ask your healthcare provider if they have any telemedicine video conferencing solutions already in place. Many medical providers do you already have the technology available to patients who need it.

If your doctor does not have any telemedical technology in place, you may be able to use a third-party service who will work in collaboration with your medical provider to provide telehealth services. Such providers often off for 24/7 healthcare, remote medical monitoring devices, and even mobile medical care that you can access with a cell phone. Many times, using a third-party telemedical provider can be covered by your insurance. Talk to your insurance provider about your coverage to know what your telehealth options are.