What is Telehealth?
The World Health Organization (WHO) defines Telehealth as health care services that use telecommunications and virtual technology to deliver health care outside of traditional health-care facilities. These technologies include videoconferencing, the internet, store-and-forward imaging, streaming media, and terrestrial and wireless communications.
Telehealth is different from telemedicine because it encompasses a broader scope of remote healthcare services. According to the ONC. telemedicine refers only to remote clinical services, while telehealth can refer to a range of non-clinical healthcare services as well.
The Benefits of Telehealth/Teletherapy
Telehealth offers a range of benefits for both therapists and their clients. It can be a powerful tool that makes mental health care easier and more convenient to access and provide. Telehealth benefits include:
- Flexible schedule: With telehealth you can have secure, real-time two-way communication with your clients anytime and anywhere. You can conduct sessions during times that best fit your schedule (and your clients). You do not have to be confined to a 9-to-5 schedule if it does not fit your lifestyle.
- Convenience: You can provide your services from your office, your home, or even while traveling. With telehealth you are no longer constrained by your physical location, you can easily connect with your clients as long as you have an internet connection and a camera.
- Greater access: Telehealth can make mental health services more accessible and convenient—increasing mental health treatment outcomes. Clients may also seek care earlier if they have the option to get help without leaving their homes as this allows them to avoid the perceived social stigma associated with mental health care. Additionally, telehealth also gives rural patients and patients with limited mobility increased access to healthcare they may not have had access to otherwise.
- Increased income: Telehealth gives you the opportunity to offer additional hours in which you may be available. With telehealth, you can schedule appointments at non-traditional hours, which not only allows you to increase your revenue by opening access to more potential clients. It also removes the barriers many clients may face in seeing a therapist (i.e. not being able to take off time from work, office being too far away, not having access to transportation). Additionally, because clients can take appointments anywhere, you’re likely to see fewer no shows.
- Improved quality: Countless studies over the last decade have consistently shown that telehealth provides quality of care that is on par with traditional in-person services.
Telehealth is a rapidly expanding area both inside the mental health space and outside of it. Telehealth’s growing popularity can be attributed to the fundamental benefits it brings to both providers and clients. Our list above just includes a few of these many benefits. However, to gain a better picture of what telehealth has to offer, let’s break down some numbers and studies.