For Dr. Thomas Kim, a psychiatrist who works closely with vulnerable populations, getting to patients at the right time truly saves lives. In a recent article on mHealthIntelligence, Dr. Kim discusses how the Direct Health (now called Direct Health) app allows him to provide teletherapy at critical moments to those most in need.
Mental Healthcare Ripe for Teletherapy
Access to mental health services is one of the most pressing concerns in the healthcare. A full 20% of the US population suffers from a mental health issue, but over half of those who need it don’t have access to care. On a global scale, depression is the leading cause of disability worldwide. But with Direct Health, psychiatrists like Dr. Kim can more easily deliver their services and meet patients when and where they need care.
Unlike other medical fields, psychiatrists and mental healthcare professionals can provide telemental care without even having to be in the same room as their patients. Dr. Kim now sees 100% of his patients virtually and reports a consistent experience and outcome with in-person care. He is able to have the flexibility to see patients on holidays and off-hours when other doctors are not available. Additionally, with Direct Health he can talk to patients when there are physical barriers to in-person treatment.
Dr. Kim recounted two moments where he was able to reach patients with teletherapy when traditional care would not have been possible. In one case, he talked a grieving patient – who was out of town – back from a ledge. And, in another he was able to prevent a young patient in prison from making a suicide attempt.
“This is not exceptional or peripheral to healthcare,” he told mHealthIntelligence. “This is healthcare. This is the right provider offering the right care at the right time.”
Shaking Up the Status-Quo
Using Direct Health and teletherapy, Dr. Kim is also able to combat what he sees as a growing problem in the psychiatric space: an over-reliance on prescription medication for treatment. Because he is able to see patients more frequently and during crisis moments, he can base his treatment around communication with patients rather than medication. For Dr. Kim, this is especially important when working with younger patients whose brains and bodies are still developing.
As for being an earlier adopter of telemental health, Dr. Kim enjoys shaking up a broken healthcare system and likes, “the fact that our house is on fire.” The field of medicine as a whole has been slow to implement telehealth. But, as a result, Dr. Kim dedicates much of his time to educating others about telehealth and it’s promise of fixing many of the biggest pitfalls in healthcare today.
Sandeep Pulim, CIO of Direct Health summed up the changes happening right now in healthcare, particularly in the area of mental health. “Telehealth is about re-imagining,” he told mHealthIntelligence “It’s how you make doctors more efficient.”
Please check out the full mHealthIntelligence coverage of Dr. Kim and Direct Health here.
If you enjoyed this article, be sure watch Dr. Kim on he has made his practice 100% virtual.
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