Telemedicine has taken a monumental step towards changing the healthcare landscape for many psychiatric patients in need, specifically adolescents diagnosed with ADHD. Defined as, “the use of medical information exchanged from one site to another via electronic communications to improve a patient’s clinical health status,” by the American Telemedicine Association, this healthcare practice includes a variety of applications and typically incorporates the use of email, webcams, smart phones and other wireless technology as a means of sharing medical information quickly and effectively.
According to a recent study published in the Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, telemedicine is regarded as an effective approach towards the treatment of patients living in remote areas or patients who struggle with transportation issues. The recently conducted study found conclusively that adolescents, previously diagnosed with ADHD, who received six sessions with psychiatrists through video-conference in addition to in-person behavior training, showed an increase in measurable improvement when compared to the group that did not receive the video-conference therapy.
This information is important to consider, especially given the substantial shortage of psychiatrists in the U.S. Addressing the concerns of underserved populations who do not have adequate access to psychiatric healthcare has long been a hot topic and telemedicine is providing a plausible solution that may realistically be developed throughout many other areas of medical care.
The study was well received by families, who are relieved that a convenient and effective method of treatment is now available to their children. Researchers also believe that the effectiveness of this method of medical practice has significant implications for rural patients and that the practice has potential of expanding into other areas of medicine as well, especially as technology continues to advance and offer increasingly effective methods of telecommunicating. What does this new standard of practice mean for patients? Quite simply, telemedicine will provide timely, effective diagnosis and treatment to patients currently unable to seek treatment in a conventional manner.