Care Without Borders: 5 Things to Know Before Launching Telepsych

Posted by Regroup on Feb 26, 2019 9:00:00 AM

Five Things to Know Befor Launching a Telpsychiatry Program-Regroup Telehealth and Telepsychiatry- Tips on finding a psychiatrist near me

Healthcare facilities across the country are increasingly embracing telepsychiatry as a way to provide patients with quality mental health services, regardless of their zip code. By connecting patients and clinicians through live videoconferencing, telepsychiatry helps expand access to clinicians in rural or other underserved areas, where it can be difficult to hire and retain quality on-site staff. While successful programs can improve care quality, support better clinical outcomes and reduce costs, the right approach is key.

If you’re planning to implement a telepsychiatry program, here are five essential steps to help ensure success.

1. Foster a collaborative approach

To create a strong program, your staff and telepsychiatrist should not only understand their specific roles, but also be comfortable collaborating on patient care. The in-person treatment team plays a critical role by welcoming the patient, ensuring the patient is engaged in their care and evaluating each patient’s vital signs. In addition, the team can alert the psychiatrist if the patient is under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Organizations that integrate their telepsychiatry provider fully into their operations, from patient chart reviews to staff meetings, are better positioned to provide holistic, effective care.

2. Get the technology right

A faulty connection or spotty video can quickly derail a patient session, so make sure your facility has the correct telepsychiatry technology in place. The good news? It doesn’t take a lot of expensive equipment to launch a telepsychiatry program. To get started, you’ll need a quality internet connection with upload and download speeds of at least 4 Mbps, as well as a computer with a functioning camera and microphone. You’ll also want to ensure there’s a quiet, comfortable area for patients to sit during their sessions, establishing confidentiality from the start and helping to build trust between patients and clinicians. A partner with telepsychiatry expertise can be invaluable in helping to source the right technology, guiding you through setup, and providing staff with videoconferencing training.

3. Educate your patients

For many patients, telepsychiatry is a new – and potentially intimidating – way to see a clinician. Helping them understand the process can put their minds at ease, encouraging more of them to follow through on treatment. Explain to patients that they’ll be speaking to a clinician on-screen, and familiarize them with their clinician to help build patient-provider rapport. Most people are more comfortable with something new once they know what to expect. If patients can visualize how a session works, they’ll be more likely to try it.

4. Brush up on reimbursement rules

Telepsychiatry reimbursement varies significantly by state as well as by payer, making it challenging for providers to determine if, and how much, they’ll be reimbursed for services. To complicate matters further, the laws around telepsychiatry reimbursement are constantly changing, so it’s critical to stay current to ensure financial viability and program success. By gathering the correct reimbursement information, selecting appropriate clinicians and following the right billing practices, providers can maximize reimbursements, improve operational stability and ultimately serve their patients better. For a detailed guide to navigating this process, check out our white paper on reimbursement best practices.

5. Put the right people in place

Telepsychiatry opens up your pool of potential clinicians significantly, making it easier to find the right fit for your patient population. Consider your clinician’s experience in various healthcare settings and whether they have specialized skills, such as working with children and adolescents or treating substance abuse issues. Once you’ve found your match, you’ll need to complete credentialing, just as you would for on-site clinicians. When vetting a clinician, organizations should run background checks and ask standard disclosure questions to identify any red flags, like whether clinicians have had privileges revoked or lost hospital membership. In addition, you’ll need to track down all relevant certifications and paperwork, such as educational and post-graduate training verifications. Since this process can be extremely time-consuming, particularly for smaller facilities, a partner can be a huge help in staying on top of requirements and easing the burden on in-house staff.  

Get growing

As demand for qualified behavioral health clinicians grows, opportunities for telepsychiatry are growing as well, offering tremendous benefits for healthcare providers and patients alike. If you choose to work with a partner, look for an organization with telepsychiatry expertise and a deep network of clinicians to meet the unique needs of your facility and patients.


For more tips on a successful launch, download our free white paper, “4 Steps for Rolling Out a Successful Telepsychiatry Program.”


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