The latest trend in psychiatry is teleconference psychiatric appointments. According to Daniel Woolfolk of the Watertown Daily Times, “A teleconference appointment is not much different from on-line video chatting. Patients sit in a room that houses a large monitor” and discuss various aspects of the patients mental health. Patients usually go to a clinic and have their appointment in a room with a video screen and a speaker. Medications are faxed to a local pharmacy.
Pros of Teleconference Psychiatry Appointments
There is a lack of psychiatrists in small towns so teleconferencing saves patients long travel times to larger cities for appointments. Clinics in large cities are also using teleconferencing. These appointments save clinics money in terms of space and salaries. With teleconferencing clinics don’t have to provide a separate office for each psychiatrist and don’t have to pay huge salaries. Psychiatrists can be paid per appointment. Other pros are that psychiatrists can work from a home office and the vocal quality in teleconferencing is terrific.
Cons of Teleconference Psychiatry Appointments
The main difficulty psychiatrist’s face is a lack of personal contact with patients. If the on screen technology is not 100%, the video screens can freeze at times. It’s important to remember that psychiatrists are doctors who prescribe medications for mentally ill patients. These medications can cause side effects.
If a patients presents with tardive dyskinesia, for example, can a psychiatrist really diagnose this side effect by watching a patient on a video screen? According to Wikipedia, tardive dyskinesia is a set of “repetitive involuntary movements” usually a “long term side effect of anti-psychotics.” Once a patient gets tardive dyskinesia there is no cure, only medications to minimize the appearance of the involuntary movements. Are patients who see a psychiatrist through a teleconference appointment really getting the full care they deserve?
In conclusion, psychiatrists are doctors and prescribe medications for the mentally ill. Can patients be treated through a flat screen monitor and a speaker? How would patients feel about seeing a doctor for a medical illness in this way? Teleconferencing psychiatry appointment is an interesting trend and useful as long as the video screen and speaker technology are perfect.
Wikipedia. 19 Aug. 2000. Wikimedia Foundations, Inc. 18 Aug. 2010. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tardive_dyskinesia
Woolfolk, Daniel. “Video-link Psychiatry Offered in Watertown.” Watertown Daily Times.com. 9 July 2010. Watertown Daily Times.com 18 Aug. 2010. http://www.watertowndailytimes.com/article/20100709/NEWS03/307099956/-1/NEWS