Friday, June 09, 2006

I see my psychiatrist on TV

“Remote doctoring” seems particularly suited to psychiatric patient encounters. Because with telemedicine you can do everything except touch and smell the patient, a specialty that dwells most on listening, talking and treating would be well served by the technology.

Telemedicine has been used for some time to allow doctors in more remote/less populated areas to get consultations with specialists using the eyes and ears of TV. Now there also seems to be a growing trend allowing patients contact with specialists using those same TV technologies. There are many areas in this country, many really not all that remote, without access to psychiatrist services because of the distribution of qualified physicians. These areas despite having population numbers that don’t make it feasible to “support” a local psychiatrist, still have many in need of mental health services. Mental illness exists in those areas just as much in urban areas, often with “complications” unique to their remote location and low populations.

As a matter of fact there are some advantages to telemedicine psychiatry that can make it a good option for certain individuals. Remote doctoring can be less intimidating, less threatening, for some individuals with histories of abuse and trauma. There may also be a degree of comfort using technology we are all familiar with (maybe a bit too familiar) like TV. A human, therapeutic connection across a “cool” electronic connection.

Anything that improves the availability of mental health services should be looked at and if proven effective embraced for the common good. Even one more individual getting adequate treatment and prevention of deterioration and suicide, or other untoward outcome, is a good thing and I would support it whole heartily.

1 comment:

DoctorZ said...

Agree with you Dr. Keller. Good post.

Dr. Z