Guest blog by Jonathan Evans, President and CEO of innovaTel Telepsychiatry
In the U.S., approximately 1 in 25 adults (9.8 million or 4.0 percent) experience a serious mental illness. Unfortunately, those experiencing a mental illness also face challenges of locating a nearby psychiatrist. Even if they have access to a psychiatrist in their area, they often have to wait several months for an appointment.
The reality is, there is a documented shortage of psychiatrists in our country. Therefore, most mental health care is delivered by family physicians, who often lack the training necessary to diagnose mental health disorders and prescribe the appropriate treatment.
A study released by the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) indicated that 55 percent of practicing psychiatrists are age 55 or older. The shortage is only expected to worsen due the aging workforce of psychiatrists and a growing need for mental health services. This creates a huge problem because patient outcomes are largely dependent on continuity of care, and a patient is less successful when treatment is delayed.
The drastic shortage of psychiatrists is a significant barrier that mental health facilities must overcome. Most will face serious challenges recruiting, training, and retaining psychiatrists.
That is where innovaTel Telepsychiatry comes in. Our goal is to provide a long-term solution regarding access to psychiatric care to facilities in need. We hire top-notch psychiatrists and psychiatric nurse practitioners as part of our team. We then contract their hours – utilizing telemedicine technology – to facilities across the country, including:
– Community mental health centers
– Federally qualified health centers
– Correctional institutions
– Primary care facilities
Our providers become a consistent, permanent, collaborative member of the facility’s treatment team, and our turn-over rate is virtually non-existent.
In the past four years, we have been able to expand our telepsychiatry services into more than 30 clinics in eight states. In the past six weeks, we have interviewed many psychiatrists and psychiatric nurse practitioners who are very eager to join our team. As innovaTel continues to expand, we will be able to provide more and more services to meet the growing demand for psychiatric care.
2018 has been an exciting year. We recently rebranded with an updated logo and a new and improved website. We also adopted the tagline “re-imagining psychiatric care” to encompass our goal of providing timely access to care in all aspects of mental health.
innovaTel is also happy to be collaborating with the Center for Telehealth and e-Health Law (CTeL) to focus attention on the federal Ryan Haight Act, which restricts the prescribing of controlled substances during a telemedical visit. Clarification of this act will allow more options for patients being seen via telepsychiatry.
As 2018 continues to unfold, our goal is to provide in-home therapy to patients located in Indiana. In-home therapy is another way we are expanding upon our mission of re-imagining psychiatric care. After a few months of starting the in-home therapy, we plan to expand our services to other states.
innovaTel is thankful for the direct support and dedication from partners who share our passion and mission to help shape the evolving mental health landscape. These partners include:
– The National Council for Behavioral Health
– Patrick J. Kennedy
– American Telemedicine Association (ATA)
– Rehabilitation and Community Providers Association (RCPA)
– Minnesota Association of Mental Health Providers (MACMHP)
– The Indiana Council of Community Mental Health Centers, Inc.
– The National Rural Health Association (NRHA)
– The Mental Health Corporation of America (MHCA)