Online Therapy

As the COVID-19 continuously impacts the psychology practices, will online therapy trends grow?

About a decade ago, online therapy was not as prominent as it is today. Meaning, it already existed, but only a few people know that licensed therapists were available to anyone with a smart device or computer.

Today, online therapy is so much available, and the market is quite competitive. People can choose from plenty of online therapy solutions to give them the necessary relief when dealing with tribulations and trials about life. There are various websites that people find beneficial, you can check  online-therapy.com reviews as well. From getting encouragement to learning more about oneself, there are lots of reasons why seeking professional help from a therapist is a good decision.

The Rise of Online Therapy

 According to the experts, resolving concerns around security and privacy and access to care becomes even more essential since psychologists need to adjust to provide the necessary care due to the COVID-19 pandemic. So, it’s no surprise why telehealth trends continue to skyrocket.

Psychologists want to ensure that they continue providing mental health services in the middle of a pandemic. Fortunately, technology helped them offer these services virtually.

The infrastructure and technology for telehealth have existed since the mid-90s; however, the care industry have completely embraced telehealth due to quo-ending events like the ongoing pandemic.

What are the Online Therapy Trends?

Many experts say that telepsychology is here to stay. So, why does the future of online therapy hold? 

Telepsychology Adaption 

Many healthcare providers were left with no choice but to see their patients remotely because of the pandemic. However, some psychologists have unique questions and concerns about virtual service delivery.

For instance, they want to know how technology will affect the therapeutic alliance or can mental health care be honored online since it comes with a strong emotional dimension.

According to a meta-analytic study conducted by Ashley Batastini, Ph.D., and her colleagues at the University of Memphis, virtual and in-person interventions delivered similar outcomes. The research also suggests that women have better results following virtual interventions than in-person ones. 

Batastini says that everyone must adapt to telepsychology instead of resisting it.

Privacy, Security, and Quality 

Most experts consider telehealth is the key to boosting access to care. That is why many healthcare providers must improve the patients’ access to private spaces and the internet. These two factors are essential for the virtual assessments or interventions’ success.

Psychologists may consider partnerships with the local community organizations and groups that provide clean, centralized, and private spaces such as courthouses, community colleges, medical centers, or libraries for clients to attend sessions.

Meanwhile, psychologists are also aware of the security and privacy risks, such as possible data breaches. So, they need to take steps to minimize or prevent them. They must do a thorough research and use platforms that are compliant with the Security Rule and Privacy Rule under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). 

They can also tell their patients about the technical controls they are using, such as anti-malware and antivirus software, firewalls, and encryption, protecting their privacy. They should inform their patients about the procedures and policies surrounding the patient data’s safe transfer, storage, and disposal.

Coverage and Reimbursement 

Many psychologists are expected to use telepsychology continuously, even after the pandemic is over. Since they are getting more familiar with and value telepsychology’s flexibility, they are willing to use it more than they did prior to the pandemic.

Different states have different mandates and laws about telepsychology coverage. For instance, not all states require insurance companies to reimburse those types of services similarly to in-person services during regular times. 

However, most states have mandated, and insurers provided the expanded telehealth policies and coverage because of the global public health crisis. This coverage and reimbursement have been beneficial for both the psychologists and the patients.

Meanwhile, a few bumps also exist. For instance, several insurers require mental health providers and other telehealth providers to use proprietary platforms. In most cases, these platforms require fees and additional credentialing.

More than half of consumers have self-insured plans, with employer-provided coverage is another issue. Those plans that are covered by the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 do not cover telepsychology.

While the pandemic is ongoing, many insurers attempt to revert to more restrictive policies and coverage. Experts expect an impactful pushback from the patients and mental health professionals once the insurers continue limiting the online therapy coverage post-COVID.

Many organizations are already advocating for payers and states to continue the current coverage level for at least a year after the pandemic ends. When advocating psychological services, these organizations rely on the argument that mental and behavioral health treatment improves the patients’ physical health, resulting to reduced overall costs. Then, it also applies to telepsychology.

Online Therapy Practices Across State Lines 

The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic combined with the skyrocketing confidence in telepsychology’s security and quality have pushed the online therapy’s trajectory forward. However, the Psychology Interjurisdictional Compact (PSYPACT) shapes this trajectory even more.

PSYPACT refers to the interstate licensing compact that allows the psychologists belonging to the participating compact states to practice mental health care services remotely across state lines. It is founded by the Association of State and Provincial Psychology Licensing Boards. It became operational in 2020 and also allowed psychologists to practice in-persons in compact states temporarily.

According to PSYPACT Executive Director Janey Orwig, 15 states have enacted the legislation. If psychologists want to practice under PSYPACT, they should obtain inter-jurisdictional telepsychology from the PSYPACT commission. The E.Passport is one requirement of the inter-jurisdictional telepsychology issued by the Association of State and Provincial Psychology Licensing Boards. 

Psychologists hope that through PSYPACT, patients can access the mental care health care they deserve despite the pandemic.

Conclusion 

With the fusion of technology and mental health, psychologists can provide the necessary mental health care while receiving these services remotely. The pandemic may leave them with no option but to adapt to the online therapy trends, but the outcomes are surprisingly effective as the in-person services. So, no doubt, online therapy will continue to grow.

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