Telepsychiatry delivers psychiatric assessment and care via telecommunications technology, typically video conferencing. This solution equips health systems across the nation with the tools to provide high-quality, accessible, and affordable mental healthcare to their patients. This approach has never been more critical as the demand for mental healthcare in the United States grows.
Telepsychiatry is transforming the way care is delivered. This solution allows hospitals and clinics in rural and underserved areas to recruit excellent providers and improve patient care while reducing and maintaining costs. So, where do healthcare organizations begin? It starts by asking three simple questions.
1. Why telepsychiatry?
Before you begin, determine why you need a telepsychiatry solution. Are you looking to add, maintain or grow psychiatric services? This answer will help you navigate to the right solution. A few things to consider:
- Do you have psychiatrists but need a few more people to help with the patient load?
- Is your health clinic located in a remote area where it’s hard to recruit or retain doctors?
Knowing whether your organization will use telepsychiatry to supplement in-person care or as the main vehicle to care is critical to determining your plan moving forward.
Next, determine which method will work best for your setting.
1. Are you planning to supplement current on-site psychiatric providers with a telepsychiatry provider? If so, you’ll need to determine how their workflows will mirror each other. You will also need to develop best practices for your care team’s communication.
2. Are you planning to exclusively use telepsychiatry in your organization? If so, then your on-site staff will need to be prepared to make small changes to the current workflow in order to integrate the remote provider and ensure your program is successful.
We have seen both approaches work successfully in various settings. Knowing which one you plan to use ahead of time is crucial.
2. What technology will you use to deliver telepsychiatry?
Take an assessment of any existing hardware and software that you can use for your telepsychiatry program. Regardless of your starting point, it doesn’t need to be complicated or require a significant up-front investment. Often, people already have equipment that can be repurposed for telepsychiatry, which often reduces the early fees of getting started. As far as software goes, telepsychiatrists will typically document into your existing EMR and use simple video conferencing platforms, like Skype for Business.
Even if you don’t have much equipment – or any equipment at all – startup fees are typically minimal. All you really need is a laptop with a high-quality camera and microphone, but knowing what you already have, and what you need, helps get the ball rolling.
3. How will you build your telepsychiatry program?
Once you’ve determined the “why” behind investing in telepsychiatry and have taken a scan of existing equipment that will help get you started, it’s time to figure out how you will build out your telepsychiatry program.
- Will you keep your telepsychiatry program in-house?
- Will you work with a telepsychiatry provider vendor?
- Will you partner with a telepsychiatry provider services organization?
- Do you have the know-how, equipment, and people to start a telepsychiatry department on your own?
- Would you like the support, expertise, and assistance of an experienced telepsychiatry provider partner?
Many groups have the resources and infrastructure to start in-house telepsychiatry on their own. For other organizations, that’s simply not a desire, or even a reality. Picking a partner you can trust is essential. After all, they will be working with your patients and your staff. You want a partner that is a leading industry expert with the experience to be a true consultant, working alongside you every step of the way to develop and deliver a custom telepsychiatry solution.
Iris Telehealth has helped countless healthcare organizations across the country deliver high-quality, specialty care to their patients. If you’d like to learn more about how Iris can help implement a telepsychiatry solution at your organization, you can talk to an expert today.