Why Rural Communities Need Telepsychiatry

What we read and what we hear can have a profound effect on our daily lives. For me, that rings true when it comes to how rural telepsychiatry can help communities everywhere.

I am a Telepsychiatry Account Executive for Iris Telehealth.  Just the other day I read that “there are about 4,000 areas nationwide where there is only one psychiatrist for every 30,000 patients.  In Texas, there are fewer than 15 psychiatrists per 100,00 people.” Reading this made me I think of the impact of this overwhelming need has on my business.

That same day I spoke with a potential client about Iris Telehealth.  He shared with me that his company had to close a behavioral health hospital in small Texas town because they could not find a Psychiatrist willing to move to the area. This isn’t a rare occurrence. In fact, in many rural areas nationwide, quality mental health services cannot be provided to populations in desperate need of medical attention. This is where rural telepsychiatry comes in.

rural telepsychiatry

Hearing his story made me think about the impact on that community. The impact on those in the town who are struggling with mental health. The impact on families who are doing their best to keep a loved one in crisis safe and well without sufficient medical support.  The impact on employers who really what to be able to keep that same person on their pay role.

This is why rural telepsychiatry can help underserved communities. I believe we can help provide the solution to mental health needs in underserved areas.

We know telepsychiatry can be as effective in treating patients as in-person visits. With just a few clicks of a mouse, an outstanding doctor in Seattle, Washington, can be part of a treatment team at a community clinic in rural Texas. The clinician can be working alongside the staff, in their EMR and with their patients, just as if they are in the clinic.

Many rural clinics get doctors by using Locum Tenens. Having to solve an ongoing need with an expensive temporary solution reduces the clinic’s resources and effectiveness to serve their communities. However, using a telepsychiatrist on as a permanent hire promotes better staff interaction and more continuity of care for the patient at a lower cost.

Reading the fact and figures concerning the underserved mental health communities doesn’t always help us understand their needs. However, when we take the time to listen and understand their problems we can truly start appreciating the impact of what we read and start providing solutions.

Jim Sease is an Account Executive for Iris Telehealth.