Telepsychiatry

The Telepsychiatry Committee of AACAP envisions a time when all children with mental health conditions have access to the care they need. Health care reform has made many more children eligible for services. Telehealth technologies offer one approach to help provide services to children who do not have access to traditional sources or are living in underserved communities. The Telepsychiatry Committee focuses on the use of telehealth technologies to improve the care and outcomes of children and adolescents who do not have access to traditional forms of mental health care.

There are many definitions for telehealth. The Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) defines telehealth as “The use of electronic information and telecommunications technologies to support and promote long-distance clinical health care, patient and professional health-related education, public health, and health administration (http://www.hrsa.gov/ruralhealth/about/telehealth/glossary.html). When telehealth relies on synchronous (interactive) technologies, such as videoconferencing or telephony to deliver medical care to patients, the term “telemedicine” is used, and when that care specifically involves mental health or psychiatric services, the terms “telemental health” (TMH) and “telepsychiatry,” respectively, are generally used (American Telemedicine Association; www.americantelemed.org).

The Telepsychiatry Committee has developed some resources to help AACAP members to establish a telepsychiatry practice.

Guidelines and Policies
Links to resources from AACAP on practice guidelines and information for families.

 

Telehealth Resource Centers
In 2006, the federal Office for the Advancement of Telehealth initiated a regional telehealth resource center (TRC) grant program to provide support and guidance to telehealth programs. The thirteen TRCs have a mission to serve as a focal point for advancing the effective use of telehealth and support access to telehealth services in rural and underserved communities. The TRCs have extensive telehealth experience and can provide services, resources and tools to both developing and operating programs. Their websites offer many tools to assist in program development and success.

 

Other Useful Websites
Useful websites providing practical information regarding telemental health practice, including information on reimbursement for telepsychiatry services.

 

Glossary
A list of commonly used words or phrases to describe telehealth activities, equipment and requirements. Further information regarding terminology can be found at the web sites for each of the federally funded Telehealth Resource Centers and at the American Telemedicine Association.