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A group of about 450 primary care physicians and specialists in Nebraska recently started using live audio and video via the Internet to consult with patients.In this setup, patients meet with specialists online in their local doctor’s office, saving them from having to travel long distances to confer with a specialist.

The Nebraska initiative reflects a growing trend among medical providers. The idea is to use technology to provide access to patients in areas experiencing a shortage of specialists or who live far from medical centers. “The smartphone has replaced the black bag. The technology is exploding,” Dr. Keith Vrbicky, an obstetrician and gynecologist whose company is providing the web-based platform to the Nebraska doctors.

While patients depend on in-person medical management, “given a choice between virtual access to care and human contact, three-quarters of patients and citizens would choose access to care and are comfortable with the use of technology for the clinician interaction,” a recent Cisco survey found.

Telemedicine, the remote diagnosis and treatment of patients through telecommunications technology, is also emerging in the behavioral health field. Variously labeled telemental health, telebehavioral health, or telepsychiatry, the practice offers obvious advantages to a field that is chronically under-staffed. Virtual treatment – whether via smartphone, live videoconferencing, or other formats – eliminates the stigma and access challenges that often act as barriers to behavioral health treatment.

Telepsychiatry may be especially attractive to adolescents, who are often more comfortable communicating via keyboard than in person. A recent review of 126 scholarly articles found that using technology to deliver mental health care to youth “contributes to increased access to care, enhanced practitioner capacity, positive patient and family outcomes, and improved quality of life.” The analysis, published in the May 2014 Journal of the Canadian Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, suggested that teens’ preferences for electronic communications as a part of mental health treatment not only reduced costs, but also served to motivate participation.

Online treatment using cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) is as effective as face-to-face therapy; parents and children prefer videoconference to face-to-face therapy, and comparable decreased symptoms of depression are achieved, the paper found. Several studies found Internet- based programs successfully treated a variety of mental health issues, including anxiety and depression. Technology-based treatment was perhaps successful with young people because of its novelty and “visual, video-game like, and, consequently, less threatening” format.

While managing telemedicine appointments may be a challenge for some EHR packages, ClinicTracker has no problem accommodating this practice approach. The integrated scheduling platform allows you to reserve conference bridge lines or web meeting accounts for each patient encounter. You can also:

– Attach external video recordings or chat log files to progress notes.
– Establish billing rules that will automatically apply location-based fee schedules, modifier rules, CPT overrides, and more.
– Analyze treatment outcomes using our comprehensive reporting tools.
– Customize ClinicTracker to match state-specific Medicaid rules on telemedicine reimbursement.
The healthcare landscape is ever changing. ClinicTracker makes sure that your EHR will always be able to handle whatever appears on the horizon.

About ClinicTracker

ClinicTracker is a robust, future-proof mental health and substance abuse EHR. Dr. Michael Gordon, a renowned clinical psychologist, and Joshua Gordon, an award-winning software engineer, founded the company in 2000. ClinicTracker EHR’s powerful software empowers your agency to succeed. ClinicTracker will automate all of your clinic routines, boost staff productivity, increase billing efficiency, and provide the tools you need to manage your clinic effectively. While mental health and substance abuse agencies are the most common group of users, foster care agencies, social services, equine assisted therapy programs, university clinics, academic counseling systems, family counseling services, and eating disorder clinics also take advantage of our powerful software.