Thursday, December 3, 2009

Guidelines for videoconferencing in mental health

I am very pleased that the guidelines on videoconferencing in mental health published by the American Telemedicine Association are finally available. A large number of people contributed to these guidelines, but the core writing group for them was myself, Jay Shore MD, Lisa Roberts PhD, with a lot of input from a number of others, including Barb Johnston, who had worked with me on an earlier version published by the California Telemedicine and eHealth Center, and Brian Grady MD, Eve-Lynn Nelson PhD and Kathleen Myers MD.

Writing guidelines is an exhaustive process. It is not the sort of thing an individual can do, and requires input from large numbers of people, especially people with different perspectives. Unfortunately in medicine, it is rare to find a single view on a clinical process, and this was as true for these guidelines as it is for the many other sets of guidelines available in other areas.
I know that all the authors are pleased with the result here - for several reasons. First of all the guidelines are relatively short, usable and practical. They do not have the failing of many other guidelines that are 50 pages or more long, or only apply to a very specific group of patients or settings. These guidelines are really generic, and can be used by any mental health provider with any type of patient. They also have a lot of overlap with non-mental health areas, and would be usable, for instance, by providers in primary care, geriatrics and many areas of internal medicine. They also apply to adults, children and the elderly, as well as to emergency and non-emergency situations. And they have information about clinical, educational and technical issues and approaches - all in just a few pages. They are designed to be downloaded and could easily be taped to videoconferencing machines so that they are easily available for use "stat" by any provider undertaking consultations using videoconferencing. So let's hope that that is how they are used, and that they are helpful. It would be good if a number of the American specialist colleges, such as the American Psychiatric Association, and the the American Psychological Association, could adopt these guidelines for their own use, rather than attempting to rewrite them completely. Let's see if that happens.

In the meantime, I strongly suggest that, if you are a provider of mental health services, that you download a copy and go through it, so that you can undertake telepsychiatry consultations in the best possible way. The guidelines are available at the American Telemedicine Association.

1 comment:

  1. Being loving reading your articles since I accidentally read the 1997 version of "Successful development...". ^_^

    I wonder if you have recently watched this Microsoft video. You'll love it.