These days we can do almost anything online, from shopping, taking online courses, booking vacations, and even dating. Now even finding and seeing a mental health provider is just as easy.
Telehealth or Telemedicine refers to traditional clinical diagnosis and monitoring that is delivered by technology. Providers have been using telehealth platforms as a means of treatment for years, but the recent COVID19 pandemic has caused a boom in this to deliver methods of treatment. Receiving mental health services via telehealth has been shown to be equally as effective as in-person, especially when it comes to the treatment of general anxiety, depression, life transitions, and interpersonal conflicts. Like any technology, telemedicine has its advantages and disadvantages. While many in the healthcare industry will say that overall telehealth is instrumental in reducing healthcare costs, raising care accessibility, and even helping to improve patient outcomes, some patients may still be on the fence. Here are the pros and cons of telehealth that may help you determine if telehealth is right for you.
- The ability to have therapy in a place that you are most comfortable.
- If you are homebound, don’t have access to transportation, or even experiencing an “off” day where you may lack the motivation to get out of the house, this provides an excellent alternative.
- Reduces travel time. Between working long hours and family responsibilities, you may feel like there are not enough hours in the day to attend to your mental health needs. Having the option to schedule any time of the day even during a lunch break or between the kids’ extracurricular activities will increase your chances of remaining compliant with all your appointments and saves time and on gas.
- Many insurances are starting to pay for online counseling services, so clients can use insurance benefits. Check with your insurance provider to see what they cover.
- A decrease in missed appointments. If you have to travel for work or even vacation you can still attend sessions.
- Issues with technology can interrupt valuable session time. You can lose connectivity right in the middle of unpacking something important. Inclement weather and other annoyances can cause a power outage or disrupt an internet connection, complicating online sessions with your provider.
- Finding someplace private with final distractions can be difficult. Things occurring in the nearby environment can distract you and take away from the time that you have with your provider. It is important to be in a room where you will have minimal distractions from pets and other members of your family.
- When it comes to phone sessions your provider can’t see certain important non-verbal cues. They might have to ask you to describe your feelings, thoughts, and actions in more detail than in a face to face session.
With that said, telehealth is not meant for every patient nor every visit. Some patients simply will not grasp the technology and the same can be said for some clinicians. But the point of telehealth, really, is to open up more options for patients and their providers.