Psychiatrists using video conferencing to see patients

Wednesday, June 30 2010

Psychiatrists in Wisconsin are increasingly utilizing video conferencing technology to interface with patients who may hundreds of miles away, according to the Wisconsin State Journal.

The state passed a law in 2004 allowing remote psychiatry, and since that time, doctors in at least 23 of the state's 72 counties have taken advantage of the technology.

The paper reports that video conferencing allows specialists to easily meet with patients who live in rural areas - where psychiatrists are in short supply - and diagnose conditions, create treatment plans and manage medications.

"Those roles are well-suited to conversation, whether it's 500 miles away or three feet away," Dr. Randall Cullen told the paper.

One mother also expressed her support for the program, telling the paper that video conferencing sessions have been very helpful for her son - whom she often had a difficult time bringing to a psychiatrist.

The U.S. Army has also increased its use of remote psychiatry. General Peter Chiarelli recently told lawmakers that every soldier meets remotely with a behavioral health specialist for a 30- to 40-minute session. Chiarelli added that younger soldiers have indicated they prefer online counseling over in-person sessions.