Models of Telemental Health

Telemental health services are delivered in a range of settings to patients with varying degrees of mental illness. Whether it be hospitals, emergency departments, assisted living homes or primary care physician offices, telemental health services can be integrated into most, if not all, clinical practice systems. Aside from clinical settings, patients can connect with a provider from home by using direct to consumer platforms that function as virtual mental healthcare offices. 

The following is a description of these two types of telemental healthcare: the clinic-clinic model and the clinic-home model.

Clinic-Clinic Model

The clinic-clinic model is the classic telemedicine model where a patient is located in a clinical setting and the facility connects them, virtually, to a telemental health provider. 

In these clinical environments mental health care professionals are present to provide the patient with additional support and facilitate the telepsych session. Furthermore, should the patient require physical assessment or medical testing, staff can ensure that these needs are met and communicate results, in addition to other treatment relevant issues, directly to their provider. In addition to clinical staff, tech and administrative staff are on hand to resolve any technology or connectivity problems. 

One of the primary benefits to patients with the clinic-clinic model is that they do not have to have any technology knowledge, troubleshoot tech-related problems, purchase the necessary equipment or navigate the telecommunication platform used to connect with the provider. The clinic takes on all responsibility for ensuring the patient is provided with everything they need to have a glitch-free virtual session. All the patient has to do it show up for their appointment.

Clinic-Home Model

Alternatively, with the clinic-home model care is brought directly to the patient and a clinical facility no longer acts at the connector or middleman in the treatment delivery flow. Accordingly, the patient can visit their provider wherever they please, as long as they have access to whatever telecommunication system their clinician uses.

Because a facility does not act as the session host, the patient is responsible for all technology setup and equipment requirements. They will also need to have some basic knowledge of technology, as they lack the support from surrounding healthcare professions and IT staff that patients under the clinic-clinic model have.

On the other hand, the time and cost of traveling to a clinic is eliminated and consequently, patients may perceive care with the clinic-home model as even more accessible and easy to integrate into their schedule.


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