Covid-19 brought about numerous changes to businesses, how practices run, and how people interact with one another. Masks and social distancing are the norms. People are working and going to school from home. Limited numbers of people are allowed in a building at a given time.
These new rules and practices have brought about changes to the delivery of medical care as well. Telemedicine or virtual medical platforms allow physicians and patients to interact without the worry of in-person contact. Plus, it allows patients to see a doctor without ever leaving the comfort of their homes.
But, who can you see about your mental health?
What exactly is telepsychiatry and what does it involve?
What does an online psychiatrist do?
Can an online psychiatrist prescribe medication including controlled substances?
Read on for answers to these questions and more as we discuss the role of an online psychiatrist.
What Is Telepsychiatry?
As with other telehealth practices, telepsychiatry, or online appointments with a psychiatrist, have grown in popularity as well. Patients need to preserve their mental health as much as their physical health. Focus Clinic offers telepsychiatry in San Francisco and throughout California to meet patients’ growing mental health needs.
Telepsychiatry involves using a video-based platform to meet patients in an affordable, convenient manner. Online psychiatrists are able to talk to patients virtually and still meet their mental health needs. It actually increases access to care as patients can easily and conveniently meet with their therapist or doctor.
From email messaging to live video chats such as Zoom, technology has opened up a whole new world for telepsychiatry platforms.
What Is the Difference Between an Online Psychiatrist and an In-Office Psychiatrist?
In general, a psychiatrist is a medical doctor who specializes in mental healthcare. He/she diagnoses, treats, and prevents mental health issues.
The differences between online and in-office psychiatrists extend beyond the names. The obvious difference is in where or how they meet with their patients. Office-based psychiatrists meet with patients in-person. Virtual psychiatrists can meet with patients no matter where they are located.
The method of delivery for mental health services is slightly different with online psychiatric care. However, the ease, cost, and convenience is appealing to many patients for the following reasons:
- In some cases, online psychiatry appointments can reduce delays in mental health care.
- Since there is no need to commute, it may be more convenient to schedule an appointment online.
- More time slots may be available to suit patients’ busy schedules.
- It may provide for better continuity of care and more consistent follow up appointments since scheduling is easier.
- Telepsychiatry improves access to mental health care for patients who may not have regular access to transportation.
A 2015 study suggests that telepsychiatry is effective across all age groups from children to seniors.
What Does an Online Psychiatrist Do?
In-person and online psychiatrists work with a client to discuss relevant issues and work toward achieving set goals. They provide mental health services to discuss issues related to anxiety disorders, depression, substance abuse, eating disorders, grief, and more.
The process is similar to in-person appointments. An initial consultation helps to discuss the patient’s needs and goals and to establish a treatment plan. Follow up appointments continue to carry out the treatment plan which may include online counseling and/or medication.
Can an Online Psychiatrist Prescribe Medication?
Psychiatrists, unlike psychologists, are trained medical physicians who can prescribe medications. An online psychiatrist can prescribe medication if a patient-provider relationship has been established. Creating this relationship requires the equivalent of an in-person exam.
However, the rules and definitions of the relationship, exam, and prescriptions vary from state to state.
Some state regulations consider the provider-patient relationship even if the two parties have not met in person. Others require a physical examination prior to the online relationship.
California law allows telepsychiatrists to prescribe medication without synchronous interaction, meaning the parties do not have to meet in person.
Online prescription medication is either sent to the pharmacy of your choice or it can be conveniently delivered to your door.
What Medications Can an Online Psychiatrist Prescribe?
Psychiatrists can prescribe medications for mental health, such as antidepressants for depression and anxiety and medications for ADHD. As mentioned above, your state laws dictate if telepsychiatrists can prescribe medications without an intake assessment.
Can an Online Psychiatrist Prescribe Xanax?
Generally speaking, online physicians cannot prescribe controlled substances like Xanax without first conducting a physical exam. This falls under the Ryan Haight Act which is designed to protect patients from being over prescribed certain medications.
However, like many rules, there are exceptions. Under the same act, telepsychiatrists can prescribe controlled medications in a state of emergency as we now have with Covid-19.
Can an Online Psychiatrist Prescribe Adderall?
Again, usually, a physical appointment is necessary before Adderall can be prescribed online. However, now due to the public health emergency, controlled substances can be prescribed by an online psychiatrist. The DEA currently permits online prescriptions of these substances in the absence of an in-person assessment exam.
Contact Focus Clinic
Focus Clinic is a team of online psychiatrists in San Francisco. We are board-certified providers offering mental health care through a holistic, integrative approach. Our practices include online counseling, supplements, and online prescription medications that can be delivered to your door.
Taking care of your mental health is important!