by Julia Gomes, M.S., M.A.

What is Telemedicine?

The topic of Telemedicine has been a widely discussed during the COVID-19 pandemic. Telemedicine is the use of telecommunications technology (e.g. video conferencing, audio communication) to provide real-time health to patients at a distance. Currently, many of us are working from home and limiting social interactions due to social distancing regulations. That being said, Telemedicine increases the access to care by providing services that follow the current COVID-19 guidelines. Professionals delivering telemedicine are obligated to be in compliance with HIPPA’s regulations regarding the protection of patient’s medical information. Although there is no set standard for health insurance providers to cover medicine, the Centers of Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) has loosened regulations for telemedicine in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. If cost of services is a concern, it could be beneficial to contact your insurance company to see if this is something they will cover.

How Could Telemedicine Help Mental Health?

Psychotherapy sessions, group therapy sessions, and professional consultations via telecommunications technology are structured similarly to in-person sessions. Psychoeducational assessments can be administered through telemedicine platforms as well. Clinicians are working collaboratively with patients to ensure that the quality of care delivered virtually is equal to the care that would be given in-person. Research has shown that this delivery of mental health services via Telemedicine is useful in the treatment of mental health issues such as anxiety and depression (Zhou et al., 2020). Psychoeducational testing through Telemedicine provides families with information about their child’s academic strengths and challenges as well as specific learning strategies to help the child. Given the isolative nature that accompanies social distancing, many people are feeling symptoms of anxiety and depression (e.g. sadness, loneliness, stress, feeling overwhelmed, difficulties sleeping) and are at risk of their symptoms worsening. Therefore, it is essential that we address the psychological needs of ourselves or others during this challenging time; by receiving psychological support and interventions, it will decrease the likelihood of any long-term psychological issues/distress. The If you are interested in learning more about the services we provide via Telemedicine or if you would like to schedule an appointment, please call (215) 887-5748 or email: Info@SMartCenterCounseling.org. or signup for one (or more!) of our online support groups.

References:

Zhou, X., Snoswell, C. L., Harding, L. E., Bambling, M., Edirippulige, S., Bai, X., & Smith, A. C. (2020). The Role of Telehealth in Reducing the Mental Health Burden from COVID-19. Telemedicine Journal and E-Health : The Official Journal of the American Telemedicine Association. https://doi.org/10.1089/tmj.2020.0068