telemedicine web cam

Bringing clinicians where they are needed

Technology designed to build real relationships over long distances.

Telemedicine and telehealth are two terms that are often used interchangeably to describe a type of healthcare encounter that takes place using videoconferencing technology. This technology sends audio and video information over the Internet to allow clinicians to interact with patients over long distances in real time. Telepsychiatry is simply a telemedicine encounter that involves psychiatric or behavioral health services.

This may sound technical and complicated, but it’s very similar to going to see your doctor at his or her office. From a consumer’s perspective, telemedicine gives convenient and cost-effective access to a person in need of specialized services — even when the doctor or clinician lives far away.

In a typical outpatient telepsychiatry situation, a person would go to either their primary care doctor’s office or a community mental health center at a regularly scheduled time. They would then register with the front desk and be seated. Once their appointment time arrives, they would be taken to a private room to meet with the doctor, as usual. However, instead of the clinician being physically present in this room, they would be visible on a high-definition monitor or TV.

Both patient and clinician would be able to see and hear each other in real time and could conduct an interview as normal. When the appointment is over, the clinician can give a patient information or treatment as usual, including the prescribing of any medicines if necessary. In most states that telemedicine is implemented, insurance also covers this visit as a face-to-face doctor’s visit, so there is no additional cost.

Since a picture is worth a thousand words, we figured we’d give you a quick video describing telemedicine from learntelehealth.org!

And one more just for fun from the American Telemedicine Association, with whom our clinicians are proud members!

Why Telemedicine Works

Many people have episodes of stress, anxiety or depression that interfere with their happiness and overall quality of life. Unfortunately, a large percentage of these individuals never receive appropriate care for many different reasons – and not having easy access to a mental health professional is one of them.

Telemedicine is ideal for anyone who is struggling with mental illness and is looking for high quality mental healthcare, but does not have easy access to a psychiatric specialist. When done properly with dedicated care providers, telemedicine is a convenient alternative to in-person treatment that’s ideal for people in rural areas, particularly those with small children or other considerations that make it difficult to travel. Telemedicine is also effectively used in urban areas that are under served and have long waiting lists to see a mental health specialist. Key benefits of telemedicine for psychiatric conditions include:

  • Access – With a telepsychiatry session, you only have to go as far as your nearest hospital or community health center. This means fewer miles to travel, less missed workdays, fewer childcare expenses, no need to stay overnight or book a hotel room, and other forms of convenience.
  • Cost – Telemedicine consultations are often less expensive for clinics to provide than in-person office visits. As a result, many offer services to uninsured patients on a sliding scale. If you’re insured, there are typically no extra costs when using a telemedicine provider. In Virginia and many other states, electronic appointments are covered just like conventional psychiatric services.
  • Comfort – Many people simply feel more open to discussing their mental health issues by videoconference. There’s also the added comfort of being in a facility you already know and interacting with support staff you’re already familiar with. All sessions are conducted in a fully private room and are subject to the same confidentiality stipulations of a traditional doctor-patient relationship.

Who Is Iris Telehealth?

Iris Telehealth is a telemedicine service provider that specializes in bringing affordable, accessible mental health care to residents of underserved areas. We work with hospitals, community clinics and other facilities, and we follow recognized telemedicine best practices with a focus on patient-centered care. During a typical session, you and your clinician will discuss ways to achieve wellness, such as developing coping strategies for when life get difficult and learning tips to improve overall mental health during the good times.

At the core of everything we do is a belief in the importance of a strong doctor-patient relationship. Because we work closely with your other care providers, our clinicians can easily access your medical history, giving us a more complete picture of who you are, what your goals are and how we can work with you to achieve them. We are fully qualified to prescribe drugs as necessary, but we don’t believe that medication alone is the path to good mental health. Over time, your doctor will develop an understanding of the strategies that work best for you, and you’ll work together to put together a comprehensive care plan.

Get Started Today

Now that you know what telemedicine is, and what the role of telemedicine companies like Iris Telehealth are in delivering it, it’s time to begin your journey to a more happy and productive life.

Ask your doctor for information about telemedicine services in your area, or contact Iris Telehealth for help finding one of our partner organizations.