The Golden State is a marvelous place to go to the beach, surf some waves, and practice telepsychiatry! Practicing psychiatry through telehealth services allows rural and underserved areas of California to have access to quality mental health care. This can have a huge impact on the overall mental health of the state.
Telepsychiatry is widely accepted and used in hospitals, health clinics, and other sites throughout California. The rules and regulations concerning California telemedicine are generally accommodating. The California Telehealth Resource Center (CTRC) is the regional group that helps support telemedicine services in California. Iris is a proud member of the CTRC. We’ve enjoyed partnering with them to help provide telepsychiatry care throughout the state.
Based on our research, Iris gives California an A rating for being an awesome state in providing telepsych service. Nice job, California!
MENTAL HEALTH UP AND DOWN THE ONE
Nearly one in six adults in California experience mental health needs each year. Let’s break that down. Statistics show that 1 in 20 Californians suffer from serious mental illnesses that make it difficult for them to do major life activities. When it comes to children, 1 in 13 have mental illnesses that limit their ability to participate in daily activities.
The lack of treatment in California is astounding. Half of adults and two-thirds of adolescents with mental health needs do not get the treatment they require. Research shows that there are higher rates of mental illness among low income children and adults. Fortunately, recent changes in policy, which includes the Mental Health Parity Act and the Affordable Care act, should increase access to mental health care for all Californians who need it.
There are only 11 child and adolescent psychiatrists for every 100,000 children in California. To have a mostly sufficient supply, there would need to be at least 47 psychiatrists for every 100,000 people. The shortage is clear, and that’s where we come in.
RULES & REGULATIONS FOR TELEMED IN CALIFORNIA
Like in every state, any clinician providing services to a patient located in California must be licensed by the California Medical Board. It is important that each clinician understands the rules that are specific and unique to mental health in California.
Like every state, telemedicine and telehealth in California have their own unique definitions. Telemedicine means “… the ability of physicians and patients to connect via technology other than through virtual interactive physician/patient capabilities, especially enabling rural and out-of-area patients to be seen by specialists remotely.” Telehealth, on the other hand, essentially means the mode of delivering healthcare services.
California rules require that a patient-physician relationship is established for telemedicine to be practiced. Though some states require an in-person examination first, this is not necessary in California. Instead, providers can establish patient-physician relationships through telemedicine.
Approved telemedicine services in California include real time video conferencing.
Healthcare providers may offer care through any of those methods. Patient consent must be obtained before delivering services. Health plans cannot limit the settings where services can be provided.
IMPLEMENTATION OF CALIFORNIA TELEPSYCHIATRY
Implementing a telepsychiatry program in California is relatively easy to do with basic knowledge of how it works. Any professional licensed in California under Division 2 of the states Healing Arts statute is allowed to provide telemedicine care to patients. By giving informed consent, any patient is eligible to receive healthcare via telemedicine. There are no technology restrictions outside of abiding by HIPAA regulations.
TELEMEDICINE REIMBURSEMENT IN CALIFORNIA
Medicaid reimbursement for telemedicine in California is available for the typical services offered in a mental health setting. Medi-Cal will reimburse for services provided via live video. It will only reimburse store and forward services for tele-dermatology, tele-ophthalmology, and tele-dentistry. It does not reimburse for telephone calls, emails or fax. Consent from the patient must be documented to be reimbursed for the services. There is no limit to the sites that may provide telemed services, and Medi-Cal will reimburse the originating site a facility fee and originating and distance site for live video transmission costs.
Iris Telehealth believes that California is a wonderful state to live and love! We are currently providing services throughout California, including outpatient services for multiple county mental health systems, as well as services to tribal communities throughout the state. In addition, we are providing consult services in multiple settings including hospitals and emergency rooms. Iris looks forward to continuing to grow our relationships with our current partners in California as well as making some new friends along the way!