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Telehealth

In response to the growing need for psychological support and the challenge that some people face accessing support, Aligned Psychology Services offers sessions online or on the phone. You can now access telehealth services from any location world wide.

What is Telehealth?

Telehealth is a healthcare service provided by a healthcare professional via computer (online) or phone.  Telehealth ensures healthcare services can be accessed remotely.

Dr Christine Ellisdon on a Telehealth call

Medicare rebates for Telehealth

The Australian government has extended the Medicare initiative in response to COVID-19 so that people can receive Medicare rebates for psychological telehealth services when they have a mental health care plan.  All you need to do is see your GP, contact our friendly intake team and book your telehealth appointment.

Benefits of Telehealth

The idea of online video sessions or even phone sessions can feel daunting or unappealing to some people. But did you know, research has shown that psychology sessions via telehealth are just as effective as in person sessions (refer below)Psychology telehealth services can be delivered over the internet or phone providing people with some unique benefits that are not available when attending in person.

 

Increased access to services 

Since COVID it has become increasingly difficult to access the services of psychologists with many having long waiting lists. Telehealth provides the option to connect with clinicians far and wide so people are not limited to those in their local area or within driving distance. People with busy schedules can attend sessions more consistently and those who live in rural areas or have mobility issues, are also able to access support from the comfort of their own homes or location of choice.

 

Convenience

Telehealth offers greater flexibility with time, where time travelling to and from appointments is not required.  People can receive therapy from the comfort of their own homes or alternative space of choice such as their car, private room at their workplace, or a place outdoors they feel comfortable and is suitably private.

We use Health Direct Video Call which is an online video conferencing platform which is easy to access via simply clicking on a link that each new patient will be sent via email and text message. The same link is used for every session. No programs or software downloads are required.

Cost-effectiveness

People can save money on petrol, parking or public transport.

Efficacy of Telehealth: A summary of the research

Research findings across both the psychology and psychiatry literature have shown that telehealth is just as effective as in person delivery of services for a broad range of health conditions.  

A systematic review and meta-analysis conducted by Krzyzaniak and colleagues (2021) found that psychological treatment via telehealth for anxiety was as effective as treatment delivered in traditional face to face settings.

A study comparing the mental health outcomes and quality of life ratings of a matched sample of patients who received in-person, intensive psychological treatment, to the outcomes of a group of patients who received treatment via telehealth, found no significant differences in clinical outcomes across both groups (Bulkes and colleagues, 2021).

A meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials also revealed that there was no significant difference between psychotherapy delivered by telehealth or face-to-face care for the management of mental and physical health conditions including, addiction disorders, eating disorders, childhood mental health problems, and chronic conditions (Greenwood and colleagues, 2022).

Video telehealth and in-person delivery of psychotherapy and psychiatric consultations were found to be comparable for outcomes including clinical effectiveness, treatment adherence, and patient satisfaction (Fletcher and colleagues, 2018).

Recommendations based on the research

Telehealth should be routinely offered to people as an option for their psychological treatment, maximizing patient choice and coordination of care.

Contraindications

There are currently no specific contraindications to the delivery of psychological services via Telehealth. However, given there is limited research which has examined some of the more serious mental health conditions, such as schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, the suitability of Telehealth for these patients may require a more in-depth case by case assessment.

See below for some Tips on how to maximise the benefits of Telehealth

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Tips to help maximise the benefits of Telehealth

  • Be prepared – take the time to set yourself up in a space that is supportive, comfortable, quiet and confidential.

  • Video and audio test your device prior to your appointment.

  • Ensure your device has a fully charged battery.

  • Turn off notifications on all your devices and put your phone on silent.

  • Have pen, paper, tissues, water and anything else you may feel you need.

  • Inform others in your household that you are in a meeting so you are not disturbed.

  • If your home is not an ideal space, consider setting yourself up in your car in a location where you feel safe.

From our experience, Telehealth has been very beneficial to our clients and the majority have responded positively to the experience. Many clients who previous to COVID19 and lockdowns, only had in person sessions, have continued with Telehealth as a preference. 

Is the type of therapy via Telehealth different to in-person?

Aligned Psychology Services offer the same therapy online as we do in person providing the client is comfortable and provides their consent.  Our team are experienced in providing Telehealth services and will be able to assist you with any concerns you may have about the process.  We endeavour to provide a simple and effective service to ensure people can access a high standard of professional psychological treatment.

References:

Bulkes, N. Z., Davis K., Kay, B., and Riemann, B. C. (2021). Comparing efficacy of telehealth to in-person mental health care in intensive-treatment-seeking adults.  Journal of Psychiatric Research, Vol 145, 347-352.

Fletcher, T. L., Hogan, J. B., Keegan, F., Davis, M. L., Wassef, M., Day, S., & Lindsay, J. A. (2018). Recent Advances in Delivering Mental Health Treatment via Video to Home. Current psychiatry reports,20(8), 56.

Greenwood, H., Krzyzaniak, N., Peiris, R., Clark, J., Scott, A. M., Cardona, M., Griffith, R., & Glasziou, P. (2022). Telehealth Versus Face-to-face Psychotherapy for Less Common Mental Health Conditions: Systematic Review and Meta-analysis of Randomized Controlled Trials. JMIR mental health,9(3).

Krzyżaniak, N., Greenwood, H., Scott, A., Peiris, R., Cardona, M., Clark, J., & Glasziou, P. P. (2021). The effectiveness of telehealth versus face-to face interventions for anxiety disorders: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Journal of Telemedicine and Telecare, 1-12.

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What platform does Aligned Psychology use?

Aligned Psychology uses an Australian video Telehealth platform called Coviu.

It is a safe and secure environment, developed specifically to host healthcare consultations. Any data exchanged during the call including audio, video and data, is encrypted between you and the practitioner so nobody can listen into the call.

To join a consultation you will need:

  • A modern device, such as a laptop, computer or smartphone

  • A camera, microphone and speaker (usually in-built with your device)

  • A steady internet connection

  • A quiet, private space to have the consultation

You do not have to download or install anything, and you do not need to create an account. It is simple to connect, as you just need to click a link at the time of your consultation. For more information & technical tips, click here.

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