In today’s tech-centric world, even the healthcare industry is making transitions to advanced and streamlined telehealth services.
Telemedicine is a quickly growing factor in the healthcare world; it allows healthcare professionals to evaluate, diagnose, and treat patients using telecommunications technology. That means that distance is no issue when it comes to a patient getting treatment—rather than a face to face appointment, telemedicine technology takes place remotely through video conferencing. Telemedicine technology can also be used for follow-up appointments, medication and chronic condition management, special consultation and more.
NorthShore Health Centers now utilizes this platform in all their locations. Under the services of Dr. Madni, M.D., located in Carmel, NorthShore’s new Telepsychiatry Program allows for patients to visit with a psychiatrist without the stresses travel time, wait time, and cost would place on a typical appointment.
Rachel Mullins, Director of Practice Improvements for NorthShore Health Centers, said that the program is already making a dynamic shift in patients’ lives.
“When someone makes an appointment to see a psychiatrist, they usually have to wait for up to four months to get in for a visit, plus travel the distance to the nearest reputable doctor,” Mullins said. “Our doctor is very open, and with our program, they don’t have to endure that lengthy waiting period to visit with her.”
All appointments take place at one of NorthShore six medical offices, where Dr. Madni connects in through computer and communicates to the patient via a projection screen in a private and secure setting. Like all NorthShore Health services, the appointment can be conveniently afforded through insurance or according to a sliding scale system which qualifies uninsured patients for discounted services based on income.
Telepsychiatry is convenient, affordable, and much more accessible than standard psychiatric evaluations. Mullins credits this as the primary reason the program is so beneficial. “
I think the biggest advantage is the access,” she said. “Not having to wait so long to see a doctor and being able afford the visit using our sliding scale system, patients have a much easier time getting the mental health care they need.”
The program also enables those with a touch of white coat syndrome to feel more at ease.
“Some patients have been surprised by how much more comfortable they feel during the telepsychiatry visit,” Mullins said. “The screen-time element makes them feel a little less nervous to open up and makes the whole appointment seem a bit more relaxed than they would if the psychiatrist were actually in the room.”
Lowering the barrier on stigma is always a bonus, and ideally, telepsychiatry will only continue to encourage individuals to seek treatment they may have otherwise avoided.
Since the program began in July, NorthShore Health Centers has had some 150 patients receive treatment. Mullins hopes the number will grow.
“The program is new and innovative, so people can be understandably a little nervous and hesitant about it, but once they try it, all that anxiety goes away,” she said. “It’s definitely been good for our patients.”
Patients over the age of 18 are welcome to schedule an appointment with NorthShore Health Centers, though any patient over the age of 65 will require a specialist.
Telepsychiatry is endorsed by the American Psychiatric Association, and research has shown that the treatment is equivalent to in-person care in diagnostic accuracy, treatment effectiveness, quality of care and patient satisfaction.
For more information on this innovative style of care or to schedule an appointment, visit https://www.northshorehealth.org/