If you haven’t noticed, telehealth is an ongoing theme around here. Last year, we posted on what we know and don’t know about online therapy, and four reasons to move your practice online. I also proudly chaired the workgroup that developed AAMFT’s Best Practices in the Online Practice of Couple and Family Therapy, which is available for free here.
We know a lot of therapists are still worried about using technology in their practices, and we have good news — regulations are getting clearer, and so is the technology itself. In short, it’s easier and safer than ever to move part or all of your therapy practice online.
If you’re considering seeing clients online, we’re here to help. We’ve put together a two-hour continuing education course on Basics of Telehealth (see the link for CE provider approvals and other important information). It covers basic definitions, legal and ethical issues, and common clinical concerns like assessing for appropriateness and building rapport online. It’s all online, and it’s in useful segments, so you can do it on your own time, at your own pace.
Interested in Telehealth for your practice?
Get 25% off our new Telehealth course when you use this link by June 30 (discount applied at checkout). Visit our CE page for Continuing Education approvals and other important information.
Telehealth is predicted to be nearly a $10 billion industry by 2021 — quadrupling in size just since 2016. And one in five medical patients in a recent survey said that they would switch providers just to be able to access services by telehealth. The demand is there. The technology keeps getting better. And the legal and ethical questions that today keep many therapists away from online practice are being effectively answered.
As a therapist, it’s a great time to be online.
Every facet of the technology supporting telehealth in psychotherapy is rapidly improving. Video connections are getting stronger and more reliable. Security is improving. And practice management software is integrating telehealth with other critical processes like scheduling, billing, and record-keeping to give therapists wanting to go online a HIPAA-compliant, one-stop shop. Best of all, this great technology is relatively inexpensive.
As I mention in our Telehealth course, I’m one of those therapists who has been excited for the promise of technology but concerned about something of a wild-west atmosphere where the rules hadn’t really caught up to our capabilities. That has shifted dramatically. With new ethics codes from the ACA, AAMFT, and NASW all in the past five years, we have clearer guidance on the use of technology than ever before. Rules from licensing boards are getting clearer, too, even if they’re not entirely consistent between states or license types. And several best-practices guides get even more specific about how to do this work right. Yes, there are additional rules to follow, but they can be followed without stifling innovation in your work. Even better, many states now mandate that insurers cover telehealth at the same rates as in-person care.
The adoption curve
New technologies all go through a process of acceptance and adoption. There comes a critical mass where a technology goes from being a luxury for the wealthy few to a common convenience. (Here are some examples. In 1990, fewer than 10% of US homes had a cell phone or internet access.) Telehealth is getting there. As we all get more comfortable using our phones for video connections, demand for telehealth is expected to grow the industry to roughly a $10-billion-a-year business by 2021. That’s massive growth.
There is likely to always be a market for in-person mental health services. But we’re past the point of saying that the telehealth train is coming. It’s here. I’m getting on. Are you?