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Home BNN The Do’s and Don’ts of Telehealth Psychiatry for Patients and Providers

The Do’s and Don’ts of Telehealth Psychiatry for Patients and Providers

by Busines Newswire
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The rise of telehealth services has transformed how patients access quality psychiatric care and mental health support. What was once limited to traditional in-office visits can now happen virtually through secure video conferencing technology.

Telehealth psychiatry opens up new convenient care options for those unable to readily see a local provider due to transportation issues, time constraints, physical limitations or provider shortages in their area. It provides added flexibility for psychiatrists to seamlessly connect with patients no matter their respective locations.

However, navigating this virtual model of psychiatric care presents certain considerations to ensure ethical practices, secure data handling, and effective therapeutic experiences for all parties involved. Following proven do’s and don’ts allows patients and providers to fully maximize the benefits of telehealth psychiatry while avoiding potential pitfalls.

For Patients Utilizing Telehealth Psychiatry Services

Whether pursuing virtual psychiatric services for therapy, medication management or other treatment needs, thoughtful preparation goes a long way in productive telehealth appointments.

The Do’s:

  • Do test your device’s video and audio capabilities ahead of time to work out any technical issues. Updated software, strong internet bandwidth and a charged laptop/mobile device are musts.
  • Do pick a quiet, private location free from potential distractions like TV/radio noise, foot traffic, or family interruptions. Silence your devices and close any unneeded applications.
  • Do make your telehealth appointment as much of a priority as an in-person visit by dedicating full time and attention throughout the session. Avoid multitasking like eating, driving or working.
  • Do make sure you have important documentation, medication details, and questions ready to reference as needed during your virtual appointment.
  • Do rely on the same etiquette and professionalism you’d exhibit in a physical psychiatric office – appropriate attire, punctuality and focused participation.

The Don’ts:

Don’t conduct your telehealth appointment in a public space like a cafe, park, or other area where confidentiality or background noise could become a concern.

  • Don’t position yourself in a dark, dimly lit room or harsh backlighting situation. Adjust lighting to allow your psychiatrist to view you clearly.
  • Don’t neglect comfortable seating and table space while preparing your private telehealth space at home – you’ll need to be in a relaxed environment to engage fully.
  • Don’t forget to provide updates if you’ve recently changed contact information, primary care physician details or any other key background information.
  • Don’t hesitate to advocate for your needs during the appointment. Clearly communicate any tech issues or if you need a break.

For Psychiatry Providers Leveraging Telehealth Services

Whether establishing a comprehensive telehealth psychiatry platform or incorporating virtual visits into an existing practice, providers have responsibilities to ensure optimal service.

The Do’s:

  • Do provide clear, detailed instructions for patients on telehealth appointment protocols like accessing secure video links, approved software and minimum bandwidth requirements.
  • Do collaborate with your staff on telehealth workflows for scheduling, documentation processes, handling technical disruptions and maximizing video capabilities.
  • Do optimize your professional background and physical setup to convey the same focused, confidential environment you’d provide in-person.
  • Do verify patients’ identity, location and any accompanying individuals at the start of each appointment to confirm privacy and record details properly.
  • Do maintain the same professional manner and care provision standards you follow with in-person treatment – attentive listening, empathy and patient-centered service.

The Don’ts:

  • Don’t proceed with or uphold appointments in which technical issues are inhibiting clear two-way audiovisual communication – patient safety comes first.
  • Don’t conduct any part of the telehealth psychiatry session in an unsecured public space or setting where privacy and HIPAA compliance could be compromised.
  • Don’t allow undue background distractions, notifications, or attempts at multitasking to diminish the patient experience – they deserve your full attention.
  • Don’t treat remote psychiatry as lesser or substandard care compared to in-person. Maintain trust, rapport and the same treatment model integrity.
  • Don’t neglect to thoroughly vet and train any employed third-party video platform for HIPAA compliance and optimal security around data transmission.

Planning and Compliance Considerations

Beyond in-session guidelines for patients and providers, practices must carefully implement secure, comprehensive protocols for sustainable telehealth psychiatry service delivery.

Technology and Accessibility

Ensure your selected videoconferencing platform supports high-definition video/audio streams, remote control functionality and uploading/reviewing documents. Accessibility options like captioning, screen reader compatibility, and language support allow you to serve diverse audiences.

Patient Verification and Consent

Identity verification protocols uphold privacy and care quality. Release forms clarify that treatment occurs remotely and may have limitations for crisis triage or emergent interventions.

Payment Processing and Coding

Obtain documentation regarding accepted service codes, billing requirements, and reimbursement guidelines for virtual psychiatric treatment. Process payment collection securely and seamlessly.

Privacy and Record-Keeping

All standard privacy practices regarding protected health information (PHI) apply to telehealth services. Systems should meet HIPAA data storage, access control, and disclosure requirements.

Patient Support and Escalation

Establish practical contingencies for appointment rescheduling, troubleshooting, and emergency clinical guidance during telehealth sessions. Maintain referral networks and community provider collaboration.

Provider Credentialing and Training

Ensure clinicians undergo training to adapt their therapeutic skills for telehealth success. Be aware of policies around obtaining credentials to practice virtual care across state lines legally.

As virtual psychiatric care continues gaining adoption, thorough groundwork and conscientious implementation pave the way for positive, productive telehealth psychiatry experiences for everyone involved.

With proper best practices in place surrounding HIPAA compliance, care standards, data integrity and accessibility needs, providers can unlock the powerful potential of telehealth to reach more patients in need, enhance care continuity and improve mental health outcomes across diverse populations and geographic areas.