What Is Telepsychiatry Services?

Benefits Of Telemedicine

Why You Should Consider Telepsychiatry?

What Is Telepsychiatry?

Telepsychiatry, more well known as Telemedicine, or online psychiatry, refers to the provision of health care remotely using technology. Telemedicine often uses videoconferencing. 

Telepsychiatry is a subset of telemedicine and can include psychiatric evaluations and therapy (individual therapy or group therapy, family therapy), patient education, and medication management.

Telepsychiatry may involve direct interaction between the psychiatrist and the patient. This also includes psychiatrists who provide mental health care consultations and expertise to primary care providers. Psychiatrists can deliver mental health care in live, interactive communication, and can also record medical information (images and videos, etc.). Sending this information to a distant site for review later.

Benefits Of Telepsychiatry

Telepsychiatry via video helps patients access affordable and convenient mental health services. Patients can reap the benefits of an online psychiatrist in many ways.

  • Access to mental health specialist care in rural areas can be improved.
  • Take care of the patient at their location
  • Integrating primary and behavioral health care can lead to improved outcomes.
  • Reducing the number of trips to the emergency room
  • Reduce delays in care
  • Improve continuity of care and more frequent follow-ups
  • You can save time and use childcare services to reduce the amount of time you spend at work. Access appointments from faraway locations
  • Reduction in transportation barriers such as transportation inaccessibility or long driving distances.
  • Eliminates embarrassment of any kind as you can schedule these appointments so you can be in the comfort of your own home or office.

Although some people might be hesitant or uncomfortable talking to someone on a computer screen, or phone, most people seem to be comfortable doing so and actually prefer the ease of access to their psychiatric professional. Many people are more comfortable and open to sharing their thoughts from the comfort of home or at a nearby facility. This will likely be less of an issue as people become more comfortable using video communication in their daily lives.

Telepsychiatry allows psychiatrists the ability to see more patients from distant locations. Psychiatrists, as well as other clinicians, and medical professionals must be licensed in the state where they work to be able to conduct any type of telemedicine. Legislative bodies and state licensing boards consider the patient’s location to be the place “the practice of medicine” takes place.

Telepsychiatry can have the drawback of not having the psychiatrist and patient in the same room, however, it can provide enhanced security and privacy for many patients.

Chair in Psychiatrist Office in Houston of Aura MD Providers

Evidence Showcasing The Effectiveness Of Telepsychiatry

Telepsychiatry is proven to be effective and has shown drastic improvements in the lives of many dealing with many medical conditions. Research has shown that patients, psychiatrists, as well as other clinicians, are extremely satisfied with the effectiveness and efficiency that telepsychiatry provides to all parties involved. Telepsychiatry can be compared to in-person care in terms of diagnostic accuracy, treatment effectiveness, and quality of care. In-person care is equivalent in terms of confidentiality and patient privacy.

Research also shows that all age groups experience positive overall. Children, adolescents, as well as adults, have good experiences with assessment and treatment (medications and therapy). Telemedicine can be more effective than in-person care for some people, such as patients with severe anxiety disorders or autism, and those with physical limitations.

Telepsychiatry is particularly effective in treating PTSD, anxiety, depression, and ADHD. You can find more information on the benefits of telepsychiatry by visiting the American Psychiatric Associations website.

Telemedicine Is Used In A Plethora Of Settings

Telepsychiatry can be used in many settings including outpatient clinics and hospitals, private practice, schools, nursing homes, military treatment facilities, correctional facilities, schools, and correctional facilities.

For a live video session, patients can make appointments with their psychiatrists or therapists individually. If the provider offers this service, it can be done with them or one of many companies that offer access to mental health professionals for video appointments. As with an in-person appointment, patients should prepare and plan ahead. Be prepared with all relevant information, including prescriptions and a list of questions.

Telepsychiatry helps bring quicker psychiatric treatment to emergency rooms. According to the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, one in eight emergency rooms visits is related to a mental or substance use condition. Many emergency rooms lack the ability to treat serious mental illnesses and don’t have psychiatrists or other mental healthcare clinicians available to help. Only 17 percent of emergency room doctors reported that they had a psychiatrist available to treat psychiatric emergencies.

Telepsychiatry can be used in nursing homes for both ongoing psychiatric evaluations and care as well as an emergency intervention. This is done when it might not be possible to find a local psychiatrist. Telepsychiatry is used in many states in correctional facilities that have inmates who need ongoing mental health care.

43 states and the District of Columbia currently have laws that govern private payer reimbursement for Telehealth.

Washington, D.C., and fifty states reimburse for live video telehealth services in Medicaid fee for service. Only 16 states have Medicaid programs that reimburse for store-and-forward services (“asynchronous Telemedicine”), in contrast.

Despite this, laws, policies, and rules governing state Medicaid are constantly changing. If the community is rural, Medicare will pay for telepsychiatry services. Otherwise, the patient must report to an “Originating site” unless the patient has a substance abuse disorder. Medicare will also cover any coexisting diagnosis under the SUPPORT Act.

The Support Act states that if a public health emergency is to arise, Medicare Beneficiaries, regardless of their location geographically, can be seen at home. You can reference the Medicare Fact Sheet for Telemedicine Here:

Medicare Telemedicine Health Care Provider Fact Sheet

TELEHEALTH RESOURCES IN TEXAS & LOUISIANA

The TexLa Telehealth Resource Center is a federally funded program designed to provide technical assistance and resources to new and existing Telehealth programs throughout Texas and Louisiana. The TexLa TRC will continually evaluate Telehealth programs in these two states for effective delivery of Telehealth services, efficiency, sustainability, and patient satisfaction. Sited: https://texlatrc.org

Terms And Definitions

Telemedicine in Psychiatry – The APA’s (American Psychiatric Association) Position Statement

Telemedicine in psychiatry, using video conferencing, is a validated and effective practice of medicine that increases access to care. The American Psychiatric Association supports the use of telemedicine as a legitimate component of a mental health delivery system, to the extent that its use is in the best interest of the patient, protects patient autonomy, confidentiality, and privacy, and when used, is consistent with APA policies on medical ethics and applicable governing law.  You can also download the APA Position Statement Here.
Asynchronous, or "Store and Forward"
Capture data and then transfer it to another site using a camera or other similar device. The image is stored in a camera (or similar device) and sent to another site via telecommunication for consultation.
Distant site
Website at which the doctor or licensed practitioner who is providing the service is located at the time that the service is being provided by a telecommunications network. eHealth: Electronic communication and support for health care practices.
Electronic Health Record
A digitally recorded collection of electronic information about patients and populations. It can be shared via information networks or exchanges with other health care providers. EHRs typically include information about patients, such as their medical history, medications, allergies, immunization status, and laboratory test results.
E-Prescribing
E-Prescribing is the Electronic generation, transmission, and filling of medical prescriptions. This is in contrast to traditional paper prescriptions and faxed ones. E-prescribing is a way for qualified health care professionals to send prescriptions and renewals to local or mail-order pharmacies.
Electronic Health Record
A digitally recorded collection of electronic information about patients and populations. It can be shared via information networks or exchanges with other health care providers. EHRs typically include information about patients, such as their medical history, medications, allergies, immunization status, and laboratory test results.
HIPAA
HIPAA is the Acronym for Health Information Portability and Accountability Act. The 1996 Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), which is a federal law that was instituted that mandated the requirement of national standards to protect patient information. To implement HIPAA’s requirements, the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), issued the HIPAA Privacy Rules. HIPAA Security Rules protect a subset of the Privacy Rule’s information. You can find out more about HIPAA here.
Originating Site
The location of the patient when the service is rendered via a telecommunications network.
Synchronous
Interactive video connections transmit information in both directions at the same time.
Teleconferencing
Interactive electronic communication between multiple users at different sites (voice, video, and/or data transmission).
Teleconsultation
Consultation with a specialist and provider located far away using store-and-forward telemedicine or real-time videoconferencing.
Telepsychiatry, Telehealth, Telemedicine
Telemedicine refers to the exchange of medical information via electronic communications between two sites in order to improve patients’ health. Telemedicine is closely associated with the term “telehealth”, which is used to describe a wider definition of remote healthcare that does not always include clinical services. Telemedicine and telehealth include videoconferencing, still image transmission, e-health, remote monitoring of vitals and nursing call centers, as well as telemedicine and/or telehealth. Telemedicine is not an independent medical specialty. Telemedicine can include a variety of services and programs that are offered to the patient.
Videoconferencing 
Real-time transmission of digital video images among multiple locations.

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Frequently Asked Questions

We’ve streamlined the process for requesting and scheduling an appointment! ✔

Please submit your information here and we will promptly reach out to you (typically the same business day👍) to schedule.

Alternatively, you can call us at 832.430.2872 to speak to our staff (with the highest patient satisfaction ratings!) to book directly.

Once you are a current patient at Aura MD, you can conveniently book your follow-up appointments directly on your provider’s schedule through your online portal account.

Call our staff or submit an online inquiry through our website

The first visit is typically an online visit with a board-certified mental health expert, which usually lasts 45-60 minutes. Your provider will perform a full initial evaluation likely with a much better patient experience than what you’ve received from other providers. 🙌

We do not cut corners or skip any important aspects of a full initial evaluation. We are concise and create individualized treatment plans to help you meet your goals. That being said, we also do not perform excessive evaluation steps such as requiring all patients to come to multiple visits before making a diagnosis, performing neuropsychiatric evaluations, or use computer-based tests.

All visits with your Aura MD provider are currently performed through a secure online video visit currently due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Effective July 19, 2021, we are happy to see new or existing patients in the office if that is your preference.👌

We will continue to offer virtual appointments for patients who prefer that option. Our goal is to provide you with the highest quality care in the setting that you are most comfortable.

No, not at all 👌

We often see patients who haven’t seen a mental health provider previously.  We also accept patients who are wanting to transfer care from their current psychiatrist or mental health provider or patients that have a prior history of seeing a mental health professional consistently in the past.

We can diagnose and treat your current issues without any history of prior treatment.  

Your safety is very important to us.

If you are having a medical or mental health emergency, call 911 or go to your local emergency department
Text Contact:   The Crisis Text Line provides 24 hour assistance and confidential. Text HOME to 741-741 to connect with someone immediately
Call Contact:  You can always reach out to the Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-TALK to reach a live mental health professional 24/7 

There is always help available. We recommend also reaching out to a supportive family member or friend to let them know that you are having these thoughts and ask for their assistance and support.

Life happens, we get it.✌ We are happy to reschedule you when needed.

We never overbook and truly value your time and appreciate that courtesy reciprocated for our provider’s time as well.

You will be responsible for the entire out-of-pocket appointment fee if you do not notify us within the designated time frame.

New Patient Appointments:

Please remember to cancel or reschedule at least 48 business hours in advance.

Follow Up Appointments: 

Please be mindful to cancel or reschedule at least  1 full business day in advance.

We accept Cigna and Magellan (Blue Advantage HMO) plans only.

If you are out of network or do not have insurance, we are happy to provide you a superbill that you can present to your insurance carrier for out-of-network reimbursement. This percentage varies by your insurance carrier but typically is around 50-70% reimbursement you can expect your insurance company to reimburse you directly for expenses paid for office visits.

We do accept HSA/FSA as forms of payment.

For self-pay or out-of-network patients, there are standard rates depending on the provider of whom you choose to see.

Dr. Ashley Toutounchi: Initial consultation: $450
Medication management follow-ups: $159.

Brandon Provost, NP:  Initial Consultation: $350
Follow-up appointments: $129.

Taeler Morris, PA-C:  Initial Consultation: $350
Follow-up appointments: $129.

We typically see patients monthly initially only until your treatment plan is stabilized and then as soon as possible will continue your care typically with visits once every 3 months.  Of course, you can always move up your appointment when needed.

For self pay or out of network patients, we are happy to provide you a superbill that you can submit to your insurance provider for out of network reimbursement.  This is when your insurance plan will reimburse you directly a portion of your out of pocket fees paid for your appointment.

You can find your specific insurance plan out of network benefit information typically in the Summary of Benefits in your information packet or your insurance company’s website. The best way to be absolutely sure of your benefits is to clarify with your insurance company member services line. You can find this phone number on the back of your insurance card.

We are always available in between appointments if you need to contact us.  You can access your Elation patient portal account here.

No worries!  It happens to all of us. 😊

You can easily reset your  Elation portal password here.

It is unusually user-friendly!  And by far the fastest and easiest way to contact your provider between visits.  You can see details about Elation passport and how to download the app for easy access here.

Aura MD offers a modernized approach focused on flexibility for patients, many of who often have busy work schedules, frequently travel, or live outside of the Houston area making travel to the office in person inconvenient.

Using our online psychiatry services, we can diagnose your symptoms and prescribe treatment options for your specific needs.

We love to see our patients but realize you aren’t always able to make it to our office in person.

Now, our patients can book an appointment online, meet with their provider and receive their prescriptions seamlessly.

Most laptops, tablets, and smartphones will have the equipment you need for your online visit.

Only things needed for your appointment:

Good Internet Connection
Camera accessible on you phone, tablet or computer
Headphones or speakers on your device

We take all of our patient’s security very seriously.  AuraMD is fully HIPAA compliant, and all information is 100% private.

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Dr. Ashley Toutounchi and her board certified team are excited to help you start on the path to mental wellness.