NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — FaceTime and Skype allow people to see the person they’re talking to over the phone, and as a technology, it has much greater potential.
As CBS2’s Dr. Max Gomez reported, it can help ease a serious health issue.
Mental health is probably one of the most underserved medical conditions in the U.S. One in five Americans will have a mental health issue at some point, but there are not enough therapists to treat them all.
That is where medical FaceTime comes in.
“It feels like you drank a thousand cups of coffee, and… took NoDoz on top of that,” anxiety patient Karen Weberg said of her condition.
But Wenberg’s anxiety disorder was no laughing matter. It was disabling, and impeding her career.
“I was a research scientist, and, I had to do a lot of public speaking; a lot of presentations,” Wenberg said, “and my anxiety was holding me back.”
When Wenberg lost the psychiatrist who had been helping her, she turned to technology for help. It is called Arcadian TelePsychiatry, and it fills a large and growing need for mental health services.
“Sixty percent of psychiatrists are 55 years old and older,” said Robert Plotkin of Arcadian TelePsychology. “So, psychiatrists are aging, and aging out of careers, and retiring,”
Through Arcadian, Wenberg connected with Dr. Michelle Casoli-Reardon, a psychiatrist at the prestigious Massachusetts General Hospital, who says face-to-face technology is perfectly suited to psychiatry.
“My exam depends on good history-taking and then mental status exam, and as long as I am there with the patient, and am looking at the patient, I can get everything I need in order to get a really good assessment of that patient, and be able to come up with a plan and treatment for them,” Casoli-Reardon said.
Wenberg and Casoli-Reardon demonstrated how the system works. They were just a few yards apart of the demonstration, but they could be miles away from each other.
Arcadian uses a secure, encrypted and HIPAA-compliant system to ensure privacy.
Other advantages include that the patient does not have to travel to an office, and sessions can be scheduled at times that might otherwise be unlikely for a doctor or patient.
“I would see her Saturday mornings,” Wenberg said. “I would sit up in bed, and, you know, I could be in the comfort of my own home.”
Telepsychaitry is covered by most health insurance, vastly improving access to mental health services.
But antiquated state laws are getting in the way – in many states, doctors and patients have to be in the same state to be legal.
Some of that is being remedied, but technology is still outpacing some laws.