Telepsychiatry

telepsychiatry by Doug Boehm

Telepsychiatry is the application of Telemedicine to the field of Psychiatry. It has been the most successful of all the telemedicine applications so far, because of its need for only a good videoconferencing facility between the patient and the psychiatrist, especially for follow-up. There are sub-specialties like forensic telepsychiatry, in which the patient is typically an inmate accessing the psychiatrist who is from a supporting institution, and home-based telepsychiatry, whereby the patient is in his own home or office, accessing the physician via webcam and high-speed internet. Another common application is for patients in rural or under served areas, and there are a large number of grassroots telepsychiatry programs springing up in the United States and elsewhere to address this problem.

A recent innovation is the development of the subspecialty of emergency psychiatry via telemedicine. Research is currently on-going to develop the unique guidelines required to provide consultation for emergency psychiatric patients such as the evaluation of the suicidal, homidical, violent, psychotic, depressed, manic, and acutely anxious patient. Emergency telepsychiatry services are being provided to hospital emergency departments, jails, community mental health centers, substance abuse treatment facilities, and schools.

One Comment to “Telepsychiatry”

  1. Telepsychiatry can be used by government agencies to reduce costs. Critical at times like these when many local agencies are having to cutback services due to budget crisis.

    On an individual level, there are many people who are reluctant to see a psychiatrist for fear that someone could find out. Telepsychiatry provides personal one-on-one care in the privacy of their own home via web video.

    Adolescents who are completely comfortable in front of computers and video cameras may find it easier to open up to a psychiatrist in this manner rather than an office.

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