Tech Aids In Mental Health | WGLT

Tech Aids In Mental Health

May 17, 2017

Telepsychiatry takes patients off the couch for mental health help.
Credit Ititx0477 / Flickr via Creative Commons

Technology is increasingly removing barriers for those seeking help with behavioral health issues.

 Technology has been a driving force behind improvements in healthcare.  The development of specific software helps healthcare professions track data in order to fight diseases.  Nurses and doctors  now routinely using hand-held computers to record important real-time patient data and then share it instantly within their updated medical history. And for those seeking help with a behavioral help issue, telepsychiatry can aid patients in a variety of ways.   Renee Donaldson is the Area Administrator for Behavioral Health Services at Advocate BroMenn in Normal.  Part of her job entails overseeing the inpatient psychiatry unit. At Advocate BroMenn,  Donaldson said telepsychology has become a useful tool in aiding patients. 

Advocate BroMenn's Renee Donaldson.
Credit Laura Kennedy / WGLT

"At Advocate, we implemented the use of telepsychiatry  close to two  years ago.  We have a machine within the hospital setting, and if the patient consents to being interviewed by a psychiatrist, the machine connects to doctors that are housed at Advocate Christ, which is up in the Chicago area. What we focus on is meeting the holistic component of the patient.  So the patient could be presenting with medical needs in the hospital setting.  They could be experiencing some anxiety or some depression.  They may be experiencing some grief and loss issues, they may be struggling with stress management, and  we may be able to utilize telepsychiatry for those situations. It's truly driven by the individual needs of the patient. We try very hard to individualize the care."

Telepsychiatry can be very helpful to patients in rural areas. "You find this used in rural health areas where there's no psychiatrists locally available," said Donaldson. "And so they can utilize telepsychiatry to get the needs of the patient  met.  And that could be in the state, or even potentially out-of-state."

Telepsychiatry also connects patients with specialists who may not be available locally. Insurance often covers treatment through telepsychiatry, but Donaldson noted that each case is individual and patients need to check with their own providers to see what coverage may be available for telepsychiatry. 

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