What Telepsychiatry Means to Psychiatrists and Patients Today 

Telepsychiatry is a form of psychiatric care that can be offered via videoconference. This includes therapy, psychiatric evaluations and medication management. 

Telepsychiatry emerged as a standard during the COVID-19 Pandemic. All medical services that didn’t require interaction in person became online to stop the spread of this virus. 

Telepsychiatry was a transition from psychiatry into psychiatry at the beginning of the pandemic. It presented new challenges for both patients and psychiatrists, which radically changed the way that psychiatry operates now and in the future.  

The Pivot to Psychoiatry and Psychiatrists

The pivotal move that psychiatry made from a field to telepsychiatry and, especially, the pivot that psychiatrists made to online therapy (etherapy) in the early days of COVID-19 was extremely difficult for psychiatrists. 

For instance, it became harder for psychiatrists to assess their patients’ “affect”—that is, the outward display of someone’s internal emotions as indicated by their verbal and nonverbal communication, including body language cues such as posture, hand movements, and eye contact. E-therapy sessions are less intimate and personal than in person, making it more difficult for psychiatrists to build trust relationships with patients. Interacting with a psychiatrist via a laptop simply isn’t the same as interacting with them across a carpet. 

More, although psychiatrists found that e-therapy does work for many people in significant ways, it doesn’t tend to work well for patients with serious psychiatric illnesses. 

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In order to enhance their service, doctors and administrators involved in Telepsychiatry adopted automation technologies such as OnSched, a white-label appointment scheduling program, and chatbots for ethical pharmacies. With the help of these and other automated technology, patients can seek online assistance without having to compromise their quality care. 

What the Impact of the Pivot To Psychiatry on Patients 

Before the automation revolution, when the pandemic was in its early stages, the patients suffered severe effects.

The COVID-19 panic exacerbated mental health. Pre-existing mental illness and people who lived in regions with high COVID-19 levels were most affected. But mental health was generally worsened. Interestingly, the suicide rate did not increase, but collective mental distress did. 

Americans suffered more mental illness than Americans living in countries other than the United States. A 2020 Commonwealth Fund survey found that 33% of Americans experienced stress or great sadness after the outbreak. That’s compared to:

  • In the United Kingdom, 26%
  • Canada: Canada 26%
  • France: 24% 
  • New Zealand and Australia: 23%
  • Sweden: 18%
  • The Netherlands: 14%
  • Norway: 10%

Due to the pandemic, patients were more in need of psychiatric care, but many didn’t consider the quality of care during the pandemic on par with the quality of care before the pandemic. 

What’s Happening Now 

Hybrid models allow psychiatrists to offer patients greater flexibility and more control. Patients should be able access to in-person services if needed. The psychiatric profession is ready to provide high-quality telepsychiatry if the epidemic worsens.  

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