Telehealth Ineffective?

Mental health and addictions professionals require tools. For a couple decades, Terry McLeod has been a trailblazer providing those tools in the form of Electronic ...Read More

I don’t believe it.

I’ve reviewed telemedicine a few times and new information about the subject grabs me. I recently heard a professional question the effectiveness of telemedicine, and since I hadn’t looked into studies about this, it seemed prudent to discover whether new effectiveness studies had overruled my previous positive opinion.

I’ve been a supporter of telemedicine for mental health and substance abuse recovery and treatment, and if anything, the presence of electronic solutions are being used more and more. Electronic resources have been around a while, including apps for iPhones and BlackBerry smartphones with links to addiction recovery materials whenever the consumer feels like they need a quick recovery tune-up. The ability to perform and possibly record sessions for consumers in remote areas using computers’ cameras and microphones to bring people into a virtual session sounded nothing but good and research backed that opinion up, so it hasn’t occurred to me to question its effectiveness till now.

A ton of supportive resources are on the internet, and it turns out that electronic solutions are varied and well suited for a number of purposes.

I’ve covered therapy sessions via secure internet connections, and discovered that the availability of video in the session delivers the great benefit for the professional to better gauge the consumer’s body language…it can be difficult to pick up guarding postures and crossed legs and arms on the telephone. If you’re interested in telemedicine for mental health, you can see Demos and connect with one of the experts Secure Health. There are a number of companies providing secure telemedicine services, which is important, giving the nature of our industry, just search the internet to see other companies. There are just too many to mention here.

Last year CNN published a story on this subject citing an increase of success in depression treatment from 24 percent to 38 percent when on-line sessions were added to the treatment mix.

Telemedicine for mental health includes more than on-line sessions. In addition to the apps mentioned above, how about an Email or text on the smart phone to professionals for spot checks when a consumer feels off base. A few seconds spent with this technology could help bring a person into focus on recovery instead of relapse (there are security and confidentiality issues with this, so connect with a professional prior to moving ahead with this). Like a number of people, I think and process better either writing or by using pictures in a computer slide show. For folks like us, the solution of electronic communication with professionals can help us consider our thoughts and actions, and reflect on advice shared with us in past and in current communications.

The published account questioning effectiveness of telemedicine for mental health turned out to be rumor, anecdotal, without much support. I certainly support questioning effectiveness of any treatment in our industry, including the use of technological tools. This question, however, like Mark Twain’s famous quote, is the rumor of a death that’s greatly exaggerated.

Sheesh. I can get a kick out of sensationalism and exaggeration (I do that for fun sometimes), like most Americans (just watch the news to verify this), and the levels of that sort of thing has given me a healthy skepticism. I don’t believe everything I read. I’m glad to see there’s a growing interest in and value to telemedicine for behavioral health.

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