COVID-19 prevented through psychologists embracing telehealth

Digital delivery of mental health care has become the new normal. Even if temporary during COVID-19, clinicians have had to quickly get comfortable with delivering care using telemedicine, often from their own homes. A recent American Psychological Association (APA) poll of 2,000 APA member clinicians showed that 75% were SOLELY providing remote services.

Most clinicians were using a combination of phone (no video) and a specifically designated audio-video platform to see patients. Although challenging, the vast majority of the APA respondents reported feeling knowledgeable (75%) and confident (78%) in their ability to offer telehealth services.

As clinics begin to reopen their doors, the APA recommends a few steps to prepare for changing rules and regulations in regards to ongoing telehealth delivery.

  • First and foremost, make sure you are using a HIPAA-compliant telehealth platform. The temporary relaxation of HIPAA during COVID-19 will almost certainly be reversed.

  • Additionally, be clear on the changing regulations for seeing patients across state lines. Although many state licensure waivers were issued, many of them are set to expire.

  • Lastly, continue to move visits from audio only to audio-video. Although some audio only visits are currently being reimbursed, given the presumed superiority of audio-video sessions, the temporary audio only visit reimbursement may go away first.

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