Telehealth has done wonders towards improving the quality of life for the general public. Especially now when social distancing is necessary to prevent the outbreak of disease, telehealth provides an avenue which allows for treatment and diagnosis without breaking physical distancing protocols.
While telehealth has an impact in numerous fields of medicine, psychology is one area where telehealth technology is highly compatible. In fact, this model fits the model for treating psychological problems perfectly, and it has helped many patients over the course of several years.
This article will discuss the many types of mental disorders and how telehealth psychology has helped in providing quality health care for those who suffer from mental health problems.
Mental Health Issues Faced by the Public
Mental illnesses in Australia are fairly common. In fact, one in five Australians will be suffering from one form of mental illness or another in any given year. This is not even limited to adults, as it has been shown the children as young as 4 years old are susceptible to getting mental disorders as well.
The most common mental disorders in Australia include:
- Anxiety Disorder
- Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder
- Bipolar Disorder
Mental illnesses make up a large part of the health care burden in Australia. They also exact a heavy toll on the sufferers as areas of their lives such as productivity at work and relationship with friends and family are severely affected due to the complications brought about by these disorders.
How Telehealth is Used in Psychology
Telehealth can be utilized by simply setting an appointment or calling a mental health specialist online. There are different types of software which allow for video and audio calls between patients and doctors even from hundred miles away.
As most psychology sessions involve talking to and observing the patient as he speaks or in an environment that he or she is most comfortable with, virtual consultations allow for the ideal environment for observation in the patient’s natural element.
Once the doctor has observed the patient, the former will provide recommendations for treatment which would typically involve medication. Prescriptions can be sent online or forwarded automatically to the pharmacy for pickup or delivery, allowing for faster transactions which are important especially for severe cases.
Benefits of Telehealth Psychology
One of the best benefits that telehealth psychology provides is that it breaches the physical distance between the patient and the health care provider. For those that require multiple visits to the doctor, using telehealth can drastically reduce travel time and stress for the patient.
No longer requiring to commute will also accumulate as huge savings for the patient. This is on top of the savings that they would get from telehealth costs which are usually lower than a face to face visit. This is due to the lesser overhead required by doctors and hospitals to operate and maintain a large number of patients that would be waiting in line.
Another great benefit that telehealth can provide is that it helps the patient relax. As those who suffer from mental problems can greatly be affected by stress and anxiety, it would be best to leave patients where they are most comfortable. Most of the time, this will be at home, and consulting via telehealth can help prevent triggering any attacks.
Patients can also choose the doctor that they want regardless of their location. This is especially important if you want a specialist that is the best in their field to treat the patient. With telehealth, you can access a psychologist that is literally on the other side of the country and he can treat you as if you are right across the room.
With telehealth, patient records, as well as treatment history, can easily be retrieved. This allows for more accurate monitoring and prevents prescription of wrong medication. This can also help monitor if the patient is taking their medication, and even if they are abusing it based on their order history.
One last benefit of telehealth psychology is that it assures the doctor’s safety. As some patients who suffer from mental disorders may harm others as well as themselves, it can be safe to assume that doctors may want to protect themselves as well. With telehealth, doctors can treat patients while also being less likely to be harmed.
Challenges Faced by Telehealth Psychology
One of the major challenges of telehealth psychology is privacy and security. All patients must enjoy utmost confidentiality, and the online nature of consultations and treatments can make ensuring that a little more difficult than usual.
To address these concerns, many regulatory bodies have released guidelines to ensure that safety and privacy measures are met. Most telehealth softwares are HIPAA compliant, and having this seal of approval means that the software adheres to most security protocols required for telehealth services.
However, due to the current COVID 19 pandemic, rules regarding this have relaxed, at least until the crisis have passed.
Other issues include resistance to use telehealth services by stakeholders such as doctors, hospitals, insurance companies, and even the patients themselves. The Australian government does not even cover telehealth psychology services unless patients are able to meet certain guidelines.
Again, these have been altered in light of the pandemic. How these rules may be altered after the outbreak, however, remains to be seen.
Conversely, the availability of telehealth services for psychological problems can also bring about the rise of patients seeking assistance for mental health problems. While seeking professional help is technically good news, the large influx of cases may overwhelm professionals and may cause them to be unable to provide quality care.
Telehealth psychology has been around for quite some time, even before technology had advanced enough to make the practice common worldwide. What is important, though, is that the technology is being put to good use, which is to improve the mental state of the general public.
There still may be some kinks and shortcomings due to several factors, and issues that have not yet been foreseen will eventually pop up. Nevertheless, telehealth psychology will definitely stay and will soon become one of the more popular methods to address the increasing mental health issues in the country.