Telemedicine For Everyone

Telemedicine For Everyone
Woman holding phone to ear, looking at a laptop, and sitting at a table with a large window behind her)
Did you know: Telemedicine and telemental health access is available to you. Have you tried it? Photo Credit: free for commercial use.

If you live in a large city, it’s likely you have already had your first experience with telemedicine.

Suppose on Day Seven of a nasty cold or flu, you decide it’s time to see your doctor. You call up your medical practitioner’s office and request an appointment. In smaller stand-alone practices, you would speak to a receptionist or scheduler, and you would be offered an appointment with your doctor based on his/her availability. In larger multiple-practitioner offices, you might be offered the option of seeing a different doctor other than your primary doctor if you wished to be seen sooner. Yet by phone, you’ve been triaged and placed into the schedule.

Most medical centers began using telephonic triage nurses to help patients get effective medical care in a timely manner, and also keep those who actually did not need to see their doctor from spreading colds and flus to others in a waiting room. Seattle is no exception, and I had the opportunity to work as a Telephonic Triage Nurse in 2011 and 2012. I am happy to report that I learned a lot about the effectiveness of telemedicine during that time!

Telemedicine, particularly in behavioral health settings, is an exciting option for those seeking counseling therapy. Yet perhaps you wonder, as I do, why more people aren’t using it more. Less than two percent of the inquires I receive from potential clients include a request for telemental counseling services (that is, sessions provided over an Internet connection using a HIPAA compatible video conferencing platform, or services provided over the phone).

Until last month, that is. I received an unprecedented number of inquiries about access to counseling sessions either by phone or by video conferencing. And I actually think this is very good news. Read on to find out why.

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