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Telehealth may be the answer for patients in rural areas

The Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute is taking a close look at how online therapy can help patients living in rural areas. In this week’s post, we’ll discuss the benefits of telehealth and why a secure video conferencing platform is a valuable tool.

Telehealth, the method of providing treatment through video conferencing, patient portals, and other online platforms, has the benefit of being available to anyone with an internet connection regardless of location or mobility. This versatility makes it an ideal solution for populations living in isolated areas. Telehealth also provides a high level of confidentiality because consultations can take place in the privacy of the home. 

Many people who are struggling with symptoms of depression and other mental health issues live in rural areas that have limited resources when it comes to behavioral health services. Often there aren’t enough therapists to go around, or transportation options make it difficult to attend regular appointments. Add to that a persisting stigma associated with mental illness, and many of these patients end up going without care. 

Study considers the benefits of telehealth for rural patients

Online therapy sessions could be the answer. The Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute recently awarded $13.3 million to fund a study that will consider how patients living in rural areas can best receive the care they need from therapists. 

Conducted by researcher Robert Bossarte of West Virginia University, the study will look at 8,000 depression patients who are divided into three groups, each given one of three treatment options: antidepressants; antidepressants with unguided online therapy; and antidepressants with guided online therapy. The study will attempt to determine what method is most effective and for whom.

Read more about the study in the article WVU researcher works to improve treatment access for rural depressed patients. 

Telehealth requires secure tools

A primary objective of the behavioral health community is to provide better access to treatment, particularly to those who face practical barriers such as location, transportation, and lack of community support. Hushmail is proud to partner with numerous organizations and businesses that are working hard to provide the tools therapists need to take their practices online so they can reach more clients.

Thanks to growing technology and increased sensitivity to the unique requirements of online therapy, transitioning from a traditional practice to an online practice is easier than ever. 

Hushmail recently got together with a few partners to discuss Therapists’ 5 Essential Tools for a Successful Practice [In 2018 and Beyond]. One important tool is a secure video conferencing platform, such as the one provided by Hushmail partner thera-LINK, that has been developed specifically with therapists and their clients in mind. These platforms mirror a traditional office setting with virtual waiting rooms, customized colors (similar to how you might decorate your office), and music. 

Efficiency, convenience, and practicality make online sessions appealing to both therapists and clients. In time, they may be regarded as even more effective than in-person sessions, especially when they provide accessible treatment options to patients who would normally go without care.

Online health removes barriers to care

With powerful, well-researched online tools, barriers to care fall away, leaving therapists with the ability to grow their practices as much or as little as they like. We’ll continue to follow the WVU study and other research related to telehealth and report on the results. It’s an exciting time to be working in the field of healthcare technology, where research, expansion, and growth are providing more options and more opportunity on both sides of the therapist/client relationship. 

Looking for a secure online video conferencing platform just for therapists?

Check out thera-LINK, and schedule a demo for 20 percent off your first four months of service. If you’re also a Hushmail customer, you get a special offer on thera-LINK's telehealth platform.

Need a secure web form to support your online practice?

Hushmail has worked closely with partners in the behavioral health community to develop a secure web form that complements telehealth platforms. Hush Secure Forms allows therapists to build beautiful, customized web forms to gather protected health information in an efficient, streamlined manner that’s HIPAA compliant. 

Want to try out Hush Secure Forms? Sign up for Hushmail for Healthcare and try it risk free for 60 days.

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