What’s new at the Family Service Bureau for 2016?
The Family Service Bureau is in the process of offering internet video counseling sessions to a select group of clients in 2016. We hope to expand this service over time to function as a viable alternative for many people.
Barriers to continuing regular counseling services may exist for some clients. Such barriers may include client illness, necessity to leave town, hospitalization, or simple inclement weather conditions. Our online video counseling services will provide a safe and protected video session by having a secure administrative login for the counselor and client. Unlike public Internet video sites, our service will be encrypted to comply with the rules and regulations of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). As one of our chief priorities is to ensure that your sensitive information remains protected, we have implemented all the required components to ensure that online services are offered at the same level of security and validity as in-person services.
Tele-mental health will change the world by making it easier, quicker and more affordable for healthcare providers to care for their patients anywhere, including rural and underserved areas. We believe everyone should have access to care through telemedicine. Telemedicine allows healthcare professionals to evaluate, diagnose and effectively treat patients in remote locations and underserved locations using telecommunications technology.
Unfortunately, in the past, most tele-mental health solutions tended to be expensive and complicated to use. As a result, most healthcare providers were either unable and/or unwilling to offer care for their patients through telemedicine.
FSB will be using an online tele-mental health service that no longer presents the barriers of being cost prohibitive or simply too technologically complex. Shortly, any licensed FSB professional will be able to provide care to our clients outside of the clinical setting. Our service will incorporate an online patient check-in and waiting room into the design so that both the therapist and client will continue to experience a familiar and natural visit.
It will be simple; all the client needs to start their tele-mental health visit is a web link to the FSB’s account using a standard computer or a mobile device. No special hardware or software is necessary.
We hope that this technology will support our mission to make care available to all and complement, not replace, the traditional care that we already deliver. We understand that a strong counselor-client relationship is the foundation for high-quality patient care. FSB simply wants to offer a convenient way to meet with our clients remotely, thereby ultimately improving their overall healthcare experience.
Evidence-Based Outcomes for Tele-mental Health research has shown the effectiveness of using tele-mental health in lieu of in-person services, particularly through video-conferencing, to improve patient compliance to treatment and access to care. A four year study conducted by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) showed significant decreases in the number of inpatient psychiatric admissions and hospital stays for patients using tele-mental health services. On average, tele-mental health was attributed to the decrease of patients’ hospitalization utilization by approximately 25%. Since making mental health services more accessible through the use of telehealth, the VA has documented nearly 500,000 tele-mental health encounters.
State legislatures have made telemedicine a priority issue. Ten states have introduced legislation that will impact the way their licensing boards enforce their clinical practice standards: Arizona, Arkansas, Connecticut, Montana, New Hampshire, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Virginia, West Virginia and Wyoming. Six states have bills that will require telehealth parity under private insurance: Arkansas, Connecticut, Indiana, New Jersey, Rhode Island, and Washington.
The Family Service Bureau is working diligently to remain current in order to continue to provide quality care to our communities. We are hoping to begin to implement tele-mental health services as part of New Community’s Employee Assistance Program (EAP) by the end of this year.