What is TelePsychiatry?
The TeleMedicine Act of 1996 made the practice of telemedicine a legitimate means by which an individual may receive medical services from a health care provider without requiring person-to-person contact with the provider. This legislation allows health care providers to examine patients at distant sites using interactive audio and video equipment. Tele-medicine is part of a multifaceted approach to improving health care service delivery in medically-undeserved rural areas or areas where geographic barriers restrict access.
Tele-medicine uses simple technology; it requires the use of a television and a camera to talk to another person over special phone lines or IP based digital lines in the format of H.323 and the latest H.320, much like face-to-face contact and in real-time. This type of equipment does not use any public Internet connections, and the digital IP protocols when used are in the encrypted format, generated by these specialized video cameras.
Tele-psychiatry will use this same technology to provide psychiatric care. The patient will sit and talk with the doctor just as they would if the doctor was in the clinic. If family members are normally brought to the therapy session, then they could continue to be present during the telepsychiatry session.
Using telemedicine/telepsychiatry consultation in no way diminishes the rights of the patient. The Right to Withhold or Withdraw Consent to Tele-psychiatry consultation can be exercised at any time, without affecting the future care and treatment of the patient.