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No couch needed: delivering telemental health treatment via video

December 29, 2009
at 6:48 pm PST

Here at the TANDBERG Public Sector blog, we’ve talked at great length about the uses of video teleconferencing (VTC) in healthcare applications. We’ve discussed how VTC solutions can deliver quality healthcare to individuals who are without access to the specialists they need. We’ve even touched upon a handful of revolutionary ways that VTC solutions are helping to save lives, such as telestroke applications, and ways VTC has improved the standard of living for patients managing chronic health conditions.

In addition to these applications, there’s another area of healthcare where VTC is seeing rapid adoption, telemental health and substance abuse services.

Many people find it difficult to seek treatment for mental health and substance abuse disorders. Issues around the availability of specialists combined with a social and cultural stigma about seeking psychiatric treatment often result in inadequate care.

VTC solutions help combat many of these issues by making specialists available to a wider audience without a significant investment from the provider or patients. Delivering psychiatric treatment via video, doctors reduce the need for patient travel and allow them to seek treatment privately.

A great example of the telemental health applications of VTC in action is the Lyndon Baynes Johnson (LBJ) Tropical Medical Center in Pago Pago, which is utilizing VTC to allow veterans with post traumatic stress disorder to communicate with the US Department of Veterans Affairs clinical psychology providers located on the other side of American Samoa. This enables veterans who are logistically isolated from specialists to still receive imperative treatment for a condition that manifests itself in emotions ranging from fear and sadness, to anxiety, changes in eating habits and nightmares.

VTC is so effective for delivering psychiatric care that the American Telemedicine Association (ATA) recently released guidelines for delivering psychological and substance abuse treatment via video. These guidelines are essentially best practices for developing and practicing coherent, effective, safe and sustainable telemental health practices.

We applaud the ATA for their work and and for creating guidelines that are important best practices for ensuring that VTC solutions bring safe and effective care to those who need it. We’re also proud to be providing the VTC solutions that are empowering a new way of caring at the LBJ Tropical Medical Center in Pago Pago and other organizations around the world.

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