Telemedecine…The Future is Here…
For the past several years, since I began practicing, online therapy/phone counseling has continued to grow. And while this has been helpful to many consumers, there still remained a lot of controversy around this subject. People were hesitant to accept this as a true form of therapy. The good news is that online therapy and phone counseling has become a lot more accepted, accessible, wide spread, easy to use, and (the biggest change) covered by health insurance. One of the main providers of telemedicine today is Medi-cal or Medi-caid, government funded health care. This accessibility in government health care has changed the future of health care in America and tele health. Most privately funded health insurance companies are slowly, but surely, following suit.
When I first started doing telemedecine or online counseling almost 8 years ago, it was not as accepted nor easy to conduct telemedicine. Sure many portals existed to do online or phone counseling, but most insurance companies were definitely not approving of this, and nor were most licensing boards and mental health associations allowing, nor accepting this. Today things are changing, at a fast pace. Many will be very happy to hear this.
One of the main benefits to telemedicine is accessibility to good help for those who live in rural areas, or those who are ill and homebound. Other benefits include more convenience for follow up, check ups and check ins and in the world of counseling and therapy, it’s a fast and easy to get help, especially when asking for help is not easy. Some online counseling portals provide help on demand.
Other benefits for telemedicine include:
- Sessions fit easily into a busy schedule
- Sessions are possible while traveling
- Great for busy couples
Note: Telemedicine does require some patience. Technical difficulties if you have spotty phone service or wifi, can make telemedecine tricky at times. Allowing for extra time for these circumstances can prove beneficial.
And of course, clients who are experiencing suicidal ideation, or have attempted suicide in the past, may not be the ideal candidate for online therapy due the fact that more complete care is necessary to manage the presenting symptoms.
Counselors aren’t the only ones doing telemedicine. I recently got set up with my personal health insurance provider Anthem Blue Cross to get personalized medical information, on demand, on my finger tips via their new portal LiveHealth Online. Through my insurance I can speak with a doctor online anytime!
If you are in California and interested in participating, I am currently signed up with the following services:
Breakthrough.com: HIPAA compliant video-conferencing therapy. This innovative telemedecine site will also work with your insurance company. I prefer this site, as it operates within the same parameters as a typical private practice. Many insurance companies will reimburse your sessions. This is a better than Skype as it’s HIPAA complaint and made specifically for tele health. Great for couples counseling also.
Betterhelp.com: Betterhelp is a low fee HIPAA counseling and therapy service, where you go at your own pace, this can be done via phone or email.
Skype/Phone: You can book a session with me using Skype or phone as well.
*Please note: you must be a California resident to participate in telemedecine with me.
** NY Residents: As of Sept 9, 2014 I am registered to take the NY State exam, currently pending.
If you are not within California, I am available for mental health consultations through Ingenio.com or Liveperson.com M-F during business hours, no appointment required.