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WHAT IS IT?
Telebehavioral health or online counseling as it is more commonly known is a massively growing industry across all health fields. Online counseling offers access to services in rural areas where a physical location for a provider might be many miles away. Online counseling offers savings in time and travel to the consumer by eliminating the need for travel in congested areas and the associated expenses. Online counseling offers increased flexibility in appointment times in a secure environment.
ARE TELEHEALTH SERVICES APPROPRIATE FOR ALL SITUATIONS?
No, certainly not! As with any offer of services, the consumer need must match the situation. Just as standard weekly outpatient isn't appropriate for every situation, i.e., danger to self or others, telehealth services do not always fit the bill for every consumer. A consumer and their chosen provider should assess the appropriateness of any modality of treatment to be sure it is the best and safest method in which to provide services!
WHAT IS NEEDED?
A consumer wishing to utilize online counseling will need both video and audio capabilities and a relatively powerful connection to the internet. Services are available via computer, tablet, and mobile phone. For mobile applications, a minimum of 4G speed is best. The upcoming 5G services should open the telehealth door to many more people. Most new laptops are more than adequate for online counseling.
WHAT ABOUT PAYMENT?
My service fees are unchanged when offering online counseling and, thus far, insurance companies with whom I deal cover the services. Cash payments and copay amounts are easily handled online as well. Fees for services are expected to be paid in advance of the service provided. Online payments may be made via PayPal, credit cards, or by invoice. Whatever method you choose, be sure to print out and save a receipt!
ARE ALL SERVICES ELIGIBLE FOR ONLINE COUNSELING?
As of this writing (02/24/2021), Covid-19 has caused adjustments to most forms of service in the health industry. Governmental regulations have been reduced or relaxed in some situations, including the ability to offer online services for NC related DWI services. While it is hard to imagine that the Genie of telehealth will be put back in a bottle post-pandemic, it is unclear at this time as to what restrictions/regulations will be returned or created.
ARE EXISTING CONSUMERS SATISFIED WITH TELEHEALTH SERVICES?
Yes, Having provided a solid four months of telehealth only services, I've had only one individual dissatisfied with the service in terms of content or connection. I frequently poll my clientele regarding their satisfaction with the telehealth service from both a technical and personal point of view. On a national level, researchers report overwhelming satisfaction with the provision of telehealth services by qualified professionals. Convenience in time management and savings in time associated with travel and congestion are often cited as primary reasons for satisfaction. While ZOOM, Google Meets, and Microsoft Teams get most of the exposure, there are more and more online platforms coming into being. My experience thus far is that ZOOM remains the highest quality provider of the existing online platforms.
Cecil E. Yount, MA, LCAS, CCS awaiting the start of an online counseling session.