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About TeleHealth and Telebehavioral Health
What is TeleHealth?
Telehealth is defined as the use of electronic information and telecommunications technologies to support and promote long-distance clinical health care, patient and professional health-related education, public health and health administration. Technologies include videoconferencing, the internet, store-and-forward imaging, streaming media, and terrestrial and wireless communications (courtesy HRSA).
TeleHealth Applications Include:
- Synchronous (Live) Videoconferencing: A two-way audiovisual link between a patient and a care provider.
- Asynchronous (Store-and-Forward) Videoconferencing: Transmission of a recorded health information to a health practitioner, usually a specialist.
- Remote Patient Monitoring (RPM): The use of connected electronic tools to record personal health and medical data in one location for review by a provider in another location, usually at a different time.
- Mobile Health (mHealth): Health care and public health information provided through mobile devices. The information may include general educational information, targeted texts, and notifications about disease outbreaks.
What is Telebehavioral Health?
Telebehavioral Health, a form of synchronous telehealth, is the process of providing behavioral health care from a distance, usually using videoconferencing technology. This can involve intakes, psychiatric evaluations, therapy (individual, group, family), patient education, and medication management.
Benefits of Telebehavioral Health include:
- Improving access to mental health specialty care that might not otherwise be available (e.g., in rural areas)
- Bringing care to the patient's location
- Helping integrate behavioral health care and primary care, leading to better outcomes
- Reducing the need for trips to the emergency room
- Reducing delays in care
- Improving continuity of care and follow-up
- Reducing the need for time off work, childcare services, etc. to access appointments far away
- Reducing potential transportation barriers, such as lack of transportation or the need for long drives
- Reducing the barrier of stigma
The American Psychiatric Association offers information and a toolkit on practicing telepsychiatry.