How confidential and effective is telemedicine?

Telepsychiatry and telehealth therapy can be effective for most conditions. There is a good research base to show that mental health care can be delivered effectively via telehealth. A face-to-face interaction virtually–in real time–has the best evidence for effectiveness. Most payers will only pay for this type of telehealth treatment for mental health conditions. This is a rapidly evolving space, so be sure to check the protocols for your organization and what is covered by the insurance carrier before you begin. For confidentiality, there are many HIPPA compliant platforms available in the market. However, it’s important to be aware that commercial applications like Skype and Facetime do not have this privacy protection and should not be used professionally.

The American Psychiatric Association’s Policy on Telepsychiatry states, “Telemedicine in psychiatry, using video conferencing, is a validated and effective practice of medicine that increases access to care. The American Psychiatric Association supports the use of telemedicine as a legitimate component of a mental health delivery system to the extent that its use is for the benefit of the patient, protects patient autonomy, confidentiality, and privacy; and when used consistent with APA policies on medical ethics and applicable governing law.”

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