Impacts of Telehealth on Access-to-Care for Mental Health Patients
International Neuropsychiatric Disease Journal, Volume 18, Issue 2,
The age of technology and smart devices has paved the way for a current and encouraging method to address mental healthcare that benefits from global connectivity: telehealth. According to the American Telemedicine Association, telehealth or telemedicine is defined as the usage of medical information from one site to another through electronic communication with the goal of improving a client’s overall health through emails, cellular phones, two-way videos, and conference calls. With the current Covid-19 pandemic, hospitals (especially those with mental health units or free-standing psychiatry facilities) are seldomly able to keep up with the influx of mental health patients without being turned away or having to wait for an extended period of time. Through telemedicine, those barriers have been lifted providing more efficient and enhanced access to care for everyone, especially those seeking mental health services. This review paper attempts to establish that despite the observations that telehealth has a positive impact on improved access to mental healthcare, it has not flourished to the extent it could have prior to the COVID-19 pandemic. We also try to provide long-term telehealth solutions, some of which are already being implemented in the current pandemic to improve the quality of mental healthcare access to a larger majority of Americans and those in other countries as well. With people being advised to stay-at-home coupled with the fear of cross-contamination in public places, people are resorting to telehealth for psychiatric visits and follow-ups. Before this pandemic, however, certain laws and rules have been a barrier to more telehealth options becoming available or feasible to the public. Telehealth is changing the conventional standard of psychiatric medicine by enhancing access to care, reducing re-admission rates, and enhancing the quality of life. Those that have tested positive for the COVID-19 virus and are quarantined at home can still meet with their mental healthcare provider periodically to discuss progress and prognosis. Research has shown that telemedicine has neutralized the impacts of delayed care, hospital admissions, and complications from psychiatric conditions globally. Telehealth has proven to provide steady benefits to patients, psychiatrists, and mental health providers through round-the-clock access remotely.
- mental health
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