Before the outbreak, Dr. Amy Hu, Banner Health’s psychiatrist and a Clinical Associate Professor of Psychiatry at the University of Arizona Medical School, did not use telemedicine to see her patients. In her view, it was a niche application for other healthcare professionals.
“Prior to participating in a telehealth clinic, I erroneously assumed that patients would be less engaged or connected or that the experience would feel a little unnatural compared to meeting in person.”
However, the COVID-19 shutdowns in March 2020 prompted a swift shift to telemedicine. The clinic went from seeing all patients in person to exclusively telehealth almost overnight. ‘Everyone had to adapt pretty quickly.’
Because substance abuse and mental illnesses became more prevalent as the pandemic wore on, telemedicine was critical to treatment. Healthcare providers can use Telehealth solutions, such as Hucu.ai HIPAA compliant, to reach patients through secure video calls and give some instructions by text message if needed. Even though Banner’s Behavioral Health Clinics are seeing people in person once again, there are people who are willing to make their telehealth appointments.
Patients have told Dr. Hu that most people find telehealth more accessible and convenient. It has especially been helpful for my Oncology Center patients by slightly reducing the time and commuting burden – as they often have numerous oncology, infusion, imaging, and lab appointments. Some patients enjoy video conferences because, even if they physically come to the building, their brains may become anxious or nauseated since the building has come to symbolize chemo or to receive bad news.
“My younger patients overwhelmingly prefer telehealth, but not all of them. It depends on the individual’s preference whether they require that in-person presence. If that is the case, age, time limitations, or distance from the clinic don’t matter.”
Psychiatrists have also learned a lot about their patients through telemedicine in powerful and beneficial ways.
Telemedicine has come a long way over the past few years, with psychiatrists able to communicate with their patients in powerful and beneficial ways. This new technology is growing in popularity due to its ability to improve patient care and provide more efficient treatment. Psychiatrists can use telemedicine in various ways, including giving on-demand consultations and providing live video calls with patients. This allows for better communication and satisfaction among patients during and after treatment.
Dr. Hu says that getting to know people and their pets and family members has been a gift during virtual visits through video conferencing. I’ve had many interesting discussions with patients about their art or plant collections. The most memorable moment was seeing a patient’s portrait on their wall during our virtual appointment. The tale behind the painting, why it did and the person who did it made me see this individual in a different aspect. We both felt somewhat downbeat about their medical and functional problems for a long time. The portrait became a symbol that part of their identity was not connected to their illness. It became a powerful reminder that there was much more to this individual than their medical issues.
Psychiatric care provided through telemedicine can help eliminate care barriers and improve access to health care.
“Patients may have a car but have medical reasons for not driving, or they may rely on public transit and have difficulty making it to appointments. Those who care for others may find it difficult to leave the house. It’s also possible that their job doesn’t allow them to attend medical appointments. I’ve been able to meet with people virtually during their 30-minute work break, while an in-person appointment might require taking 90 minutes off work, which may not be possible if it requires a long bus commute.”
Some disadvantages of telemedicine include the inability to take vitals, see a patient’s entire body, and assess abnormal involuntary movements, gait, and other issues.
People may approach appointments casually when telehealth is so accessible and convenient. For example, they may need to write down or remember their appointment time because they expect to be notified by phone call or text message. It can backfire sometimes. Physicians had to inform people that they could not accommodate their appointments while driving or shopping due to safety or privacy concerns.
Setting aside time and space to focus on one’s treatment and designating a specific space in their house for virtual therapy sessions can help patients get the most out of their virtual visits.
What will be the role of telemedicine in psychiatry in the future?
“It is certainly here to stay,” Dr. Hu affirms. “I believe the advantages outweigh the disadvantages, and prior to the outbreak, having telehealth as the default option was an effective way to address the doubts both patients and practitioners might have had about it.”
Telehealth is a type of patient care that revolves around the use of communication technologies in order to streamline patient interactions and keep them organized. It has been shown to be an effective way to address doubts patients and practitioners might have had about it. It was due to its ability to reduce the time needed for consultations and increase efficiency by providing more immediate access to care.
Telemedicine is the future of psychiatry. It provides access to patients with mental health and other psychiatric problems for their treatment and service through Telehealthcare applications like Hucu.ai for secure video conferences. This technology has the potential to improve patient care and prevent addiction. With the Hucu.ai Telehealth solution, psychiatrists can provide treatment in a convenient location and with minimal time commitment. This technology is also being used to improve communication between psychiatrists and patients.