Video Chat Therapy and Virtual Doctor Visits are Becoming Much More Mainstream

By Taylor Tepper

Video Chat Therapy and Virtual Doctor Visits are Becoming Much More Mainstream This articles talks about how teletherapy is becoming much more mainstream – fast. Also notable is that more states are requiring health insurers to cover telemedicine, or virtual doctor visits by phone, text, or video link.

When you need help with depression, anxiety, or any other mental health condition, finding affordable care can be a challenge. A shortage of qualified doctors and therapists means just getting an appointment can be tough. Plus, since finding in-network care can be harder than it is for medical care, you may have to shoulder a hefty portion of the price of your treatment. Now an emerging trend in health care may offer some relief.

More and more states are requiring health insurers to cover telemedicine—doctor visits that are conducted by phone, text, or video link—and more companies are adding the service as an employee benefit. Almost all large employers will offer telemedicine over the next four years, according to a recent National Business Group on Health survey.

Last year UnitedHealthcare, the nation’s largest insurer, announced that it would offer “virtual physician visits.” The Department of Veterans Affairs has invested $1 billion in tele-health.

Telemedicine increasingly includes mental illness treatment. In May, Walgreens teamed with Mental Health America and MDLive to create a portal where you can access more than 1,000 mental health providers. Consultations start at $60, and you can use the video chat service from anywhere.

“Virtual therapy can be as effective as traditional therapy,” says Willis Towers Watson senior health management consultant Allan Khoury, especially for people who don’t want to be seen walking into a therapist’s office, or don’t have one nearby.

A 2011 study out of the University of Amsterdam that was published in Studies in Health Technology and Informatics found that “online cognitive behavioral treatment is a viable and effective alternative to face-to-face treatment.” A 2015 large-scale review of various tele-health practices by the Cochrane Effective Practice and Organisation of Care Group reported that outcomes for those seeking mental health treatment remotely—along with other medical conditions—were no different than for those who got in-person care.

With employers still determining coverage levels, costs are evolving, says Khoury, who has seen an initial 90-minute session go for $200, with subsequent 30-minute follow-ups priced at $90, similar to in-person costs.

One reason people go without therapy is that there are simply are not enough qualified doctors and nurses to treat mental illness. Nearly 103 million Americans live in area designated as having a shortage of mental health professionals. That’s 63% more than those who don’t live near a primary care doctor, and twice as many as those without speedy access to a dentist, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

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Related Online Continuing Education Courses

This course is focused upon the ethical principles that are called into play with the use of e-therapy. Among them the most obvious concern is for privacy and confidentiality. Yet these are not the only ethical principles that will be challenged by the increasing use of e-therapy. The others include interjurisdictional issues (crossing state lines), informed consent, competence and scope of practice, boundaries and multiple relationships, and record keeping.In addition to outlining potential ethical problems and HIPAA challenges, this course includes recommended resources and sets of specific guidelines and best practices that have been established and published by various professional organizations.
Ethics and Social Media is a 2-hour online continuing education (CE) course that examines the use of Social Networking Services (SNS) on both our personal and professional lives. Is it useful or appropriate (or ethical or therapeutic) for a therapist and a client to share the kinds of information that are routinely posted on SNS like Facebook, Twitter, and others? How are psychotherapists to handle “Friending” requests from clients? What are the threats to confidentiality and therapeutic boundaries that are posed by the use of social media sites, texts, or tweets in therapist-client communication?


Ethics & Boundaries in Psychotherapy is a 3-hour online continuing education (CE) course intended to give psychotherapists the tools they need to resolve the common and not-so-common ethical and boundary issues and dilemmas that they may expect to encounter in their everyday professional practice in the 21st century. Among the topics discussed are definitions of boundaries; resolving conflicts between ethics and the law; boundary crossings vs. boundary violations; multiple relationships; sexual misconduct; privacy and confidentiality in the age of HIPAA and the Patriot Act; ethics issues with dangerous clients; boundary issues in clinical supervision; ethics and cultural competency; ethical boundaries in use of social media; ethical practice in teletherapy; fees and financial relationships; and a 17-step model for ethical decision making.

Professional Development Resources is a nonprofit educational corporation 501(c)(3) organized in 1992. Our purpose is to provide high quality online continuing education (CE) courses on topics relevant to members of the healthcare professions we serve. We strive to keep our carbon footprint small by being completely paperless, allowing telecommuting, recycling, using energy-efficient lights and powering off electronics when not in use. We provide online CE courses to allow our colleagues to earn credits from the comfort of their own home or office so we can all be as green as possible (no paper, no shipping or handling, no travel expenses, etc.). Sustainability isn’t part of our work – it’s a guiding influence for all of our work.

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