Tag Archives: telemedicine

InSight Celebrates 20 Years of Telepsychiatry

Mount Laurel, NJ – InSight Telepsychiatry, based in Mount Laurel, NJ, celebrates its 20th year of providing telepsychiatry services. Over the past two decades, InSight has maintained its reputation as a trusted and experienced industry thought leader and has played a leading role in helping to shape the field, define the standard of care and advocate for improved regulations.

In the late 1990s, founder and Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Jim Varrell, recognized the need for better access to behavioral health care as the growing demand for services threatened to overwhelm local resources while the number of specialists continued to decline.  He resolved to solve the problem through innovative applications of technology, at a time when technology was far from mainstream, and conducted the nation’s first telepsychiatry evaluation for an involuntary commitment.  This represented a revolutionary advancement in the delivery of care and the advent of InSight Telepsychiatry as we know it today.

In 2015, InSight launched its Inpathy division, an online telebehavioral health network and platform that allows consumers to receive behavioral health services from the comfort of their home and other private spaces.

Today, InSight is the largest telepsychiatry service provider organization in the country and serves organizations and individuals at all levels across the continuum of care.

“We’ve experienced exciting times of growth and advancement along the way and remain singularly focused on our goal to transform access to care.  The shortage of specialists coupled with rising awareness of and demand for behavioral health care services underscores the importance of our mission and drives us to continue to find new and innovative ways to increase access and improve care delivery for underserved populations,” said Geoffrey Boyce, CEO of InSight.

Visit our website to see a timeline of key events in InSight’s history, testimonials from InSight team members and reflections on the evolution of telemedicine and the regulatory landscape over the past 20 years.

“The milestones we have reached, the barriers we have overcome, and the accomplishments we have realized over the past 20 years are truly incredible.  We are humbled by how many lives have been impacted as a result of the explosive growth in the industry and improved access to care that telepsychiatry affords.  As we look ahead, we will likely see tremendous advancements that leverage technology to engage, identify, diagnose, treat and improve outcomes of patients with behavioral health disorders. InSight is uniquely positioned to harness these technical advancements because of the people and the experiences that have led us to where we are today,” added Boyce.

About InSight Telepsychiatry

InSight is the leading national telepsychiatry service provider organization with a mission to increase access to quality behavioral health care through innovative applications of technology.  InSight has over two decades of telepsychiatry experience and serves hundreds of organizations across the country with its on-demand, scheduled services and Inpathy divisions. InSight is uniquely positioned to offer scalable telepsychiatry services in settings across the continuum of care. InSight has a diverse team of psychiatry providers, a robust internal infrastructure and a history of adapting its programs to fit the needs of a variety of different settings and populations.  InSight has led the growth of the telepsychiatry industry and remains an industry thought leader and advocate.  To learn more about telepsychiatry and how it can benefit you or your organization, visit www.InSightTelepsychiatry.com.

Reflections and Prediction on the Advancements in Telemedicine

As InSight celebrates 20 years of providing telepsychiatry services, we look back at where the telemedicine industry has been and ahead in the direction of where the industry is going.

In 1879, Punch magazine envisioned the future of medicine with an Edison-esque dream machine, the telephonoscope. The idea being images, sounds and light could be transmitted in real-time to a remote audience. Even before the world was introduced to the first television, the idea of telemedicine was alive in the mind.

Flash forward almost 100 years later and AT&T has released its first video phone, NASA started delivering medical services via televideo to rural Native American reservations, and in 1999, Dr. James Varrell, Chief Medical Officer of InSight Telepsychiatry, committed the first patient via telepsychiatry.

Since its inception, InSight has been dedicated to transforming access to care and has been at the forefront of the latest telepsychiatry innovations.

Now, healthcare is moving into a new era. The industry has spent the last two decades collecting data and questioning what to do with it all. The vast array of electronic medical record systems have started to condense and align to standardize data across the spectrum of care. Interoperability has been the buzzword for years. The looming notions of Big Data and artificial intelligence have stepped from the shadows and into the spotlight. Additionally, while consumers have historically been shut out of their own care, the patient is quickly becoming King.

Picture this reality:

You walk in the door at home and your smartwatch lights up. It’s suggesting you schedule an appointment with your therapist. Why?

You know you’ve had a series of pretty awful weeks – that giant project at work just fell through, you can’t remember the last time you hung out with your friends, and the scale in the bathroom is showing a number you’d rather not talk about. What you may not realize is that your watch and the voice controlled device in your living room know all of this too, and the data these devices have captured show you’ve reached a critical threshold (according to a universally-accepted algorithm) for depression.

When you ask the virtual assistant to add eggs to the grocery list, the inflections in your voice could be an indicator that your mental health is suffering. Your smartwatch hasn’t logged any exercise for a few weeks, another potential flag. Your calendar app shows you’ve been all work and no play. From your family history logged in your primary care clinician’s mobile app, your family has a history of depression, too. Based on the predictive models built through your data and millions of others’, an appointment with your therapist might help you get ahead of larger issues.

It’s a future that’s not far off from our reality. Groups like the Scripps Research Institute and IBM’s Watson are attempting to build these predictive models with Big Data collected through telemedicine and traditional care avenues. Prevention using these early indicators may not be cheaper yet, but it certainly can improve outcomes and increase provider efficiency. While behavioral health in particular faces a psychiatry shortage, our future lies in utilizing these new tools, this data, to drive better decision-making and better patient care.

Artificial intelligence can be applied to telepsychiatry to further increase access to mental and behavioral health services for those in need. This includes the use of voice assistants that could help to identify vocal inflexion or use commonly asked questions to determine if someone may be in need of mental health services. Additionally, chatbots can be used to educate individuals on various health concerns and general wellness, and help them keep up with their treatment plan. As we continue to treat the whole patient, gathering data from across both physical and mental health will be critical for anticipating health issues. Finally, while artificial intelligence will never replace healthcare providers, it can help to promote their productivity.

InSight’s roots extend much further than the last 20 years, and our thought leadership will have lasting impact into this new era. Initiatives like Inpathy, the first virtual group practice for behavioral health, has increased access to care for thousands of consumers to date. We are excited to continue to transform access to mental health care for years to come.

About InSight Telepsychiatry

InSight is the leading national telepsychiatry service provider organization with a mission to increase access to quality behavioral health care through innovative applications of technology.  InSight has over two decades of telepsychiatry experience and serves hundreds of organizations across the country with its on-demand, scheduled services and Inpathy divisions. InSight is uniquely positioned to offer scalable telepsychiatry services in settings across the continuum of care. InSight has a diverse team of psychiatry providers, a robust internal infrastructure and a history of adapting its programs to fit the needs of a variety of different settings and populations.  InSight has led the growth of the telepsychiatry industry and remains an industry thought leader and advocate.  To learn more about telepsychiatry and how it can benefit you or your organization, visit www.InSightTelepsychiatry.com.

Transforming the Telemedicine Regulatory Landscape on a State and Federal Level

For the past 20 years, InSight Telepsychiatry has led the growth of the telepsychiatry industry. Driven by our mission to transform access to health care through innovative applications of technology, InSight has provided telepsychiatry services to a multitude of settings and consumers across all populations.  Given our two decades of experience within this field, InSight has become the leading national telepsychiatry service provider organization.

One reason InSight has become a leading expert in the industry is due to the early recognition that telehealth friendly federal and state regulations would be key determinants of the success of the field. Back in 1999, the regulatory landscape surrounding telemedicine and telepsychiatry was largely unregulated. Telepsychiatry was still a novel application of medicine and there were limited state and federal restrictions surrounding it. InSight turned this unregulated landscape into an opportunity to advocate for and help craft telehealth friendly guidelines and legislation that exemplified the impact that telepsychiatry could have on the practice of medicine.

Federal Level Advocacy

On a federal level, the most significant regulatory influence on telepsychiatry has been the Ryan Haight Online Pharmacy Consumer Protection Act. Passed in 2008, the Act is named after a young man who overdosed and subsequently died after ordering prescription pills through an online survey. The intention of this Act was to crack down on rogue internet pharmacies by limiting the prescribing of controlled substances without a prior in-person examination. On its face, the Ryan Haight Act is not intended to limit the legitimate practice of telemedicine and even went as far as to outline seven “practice of telemedicine” exceptions to the in-person examination requirement. Unfortunately, while well intentioned, the exceptions are very narrow in scope and do not fully contemplate the current and future application of telemedicine.

One of those outlined exceptions was if a provider had a special registration for telemedicine. To date, however, the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) has yet to develop this registration process. This lack of action spurred InSight to advocate strongly for its development for the past five years. In 2015, a group of telemedicine advocates, including InSight, started to put pressure on the DEA to create this registration. InSight worked in conjunction with a small committee from the American Telemedicine Association (ATA) Telemental Health Special Interest Group to craft a letter to the DEA that focused heavily on the applications of controlled substance prescribing for child and adolescent telepsychiatry. While this letter resulted in both groups meeting with the DEA to discuss this issue in 2016, efforts stalled again for the next several years.

In 2018, with growing attention surrounding the opioid crisis and the rise of Medication Assisted Treatment (MAT), interest in a special registration resurfaced due to the enactment of the Substance Use Disorder Prevention that Promotes Opioid Recovery and Treatment (SUPPORT) for Patients and Communities Act. Signed into law in October 2018, this package of bills was intended to combat the growing opioid crisis in the United States. One key aspect of the Act was the provision that required the DEA to create a special registration for telemedicine no later than one year after the SUPPORT Act’s enactment. For the first time since the Ryan Haight Act was adopted in 2008, the DEA had a deadline to put this registration in place.

With this deadline in place, InSight assisted the ATA in creating and releasing another letter, very similar to the 2015 letter, that provided detailed recommendations for what a special registration should look like. Overall, the recommendations were centered around the idea that the registration should allow for care anywhere, anyway, meaning that either a provider or a facility should be able to qualify for a special registration. Although the registration has yet to be proposed, InSight is continuing to be a staunch advocate to have the long-awaited registration in place in order to increase access to care to even more consumers.

State Level Advocacy

InSight’s advocacy efforts continue on the state level as well. InSight’s CEO, Geoffrey Boyce, played a key role in drafting language for New Jersey Senate Bill No. 2729, which introduced significant regulations for the proper delivery of health care services through telemedicine in 2015. He was among experts to testify before the New Jersey state Senate Health, Human Services and Senior Citizens Committee on the current and potential applications of telemedicine services and continued to be a resource to policymakers throughout the process. Boyce also played a role in passing the New Jersey Telemedicine Bill in 2017.

In addition to New Jersey, InSight assisted Delaware in drafting its own telemedicine policy. Boyce worked closely with the Delaware Telehealth Coalition, the Delaware Medical Society and other stakeholders to draft legislation that made telemedicine more broadly available in the state. The bill passed remarkably quickly and granted telemedicine parity for private payer reimbursement.

While InSight continues to advocate for telehealth regulations on both the national and state levels, present-day advocacy efforts have expanded to focus on topics such as licensure compacts. Compacts, like the Interstate Medical Licensure Compact and the Nurse Licensure Compact, offer providers an expedited pathway to licensure for those who want to practice in multiple states. This is important particularly for telemedicine providers since all states require providers to be licensed in the state where the patient is located at the time of the encounter.  Given that the traditional licensure application process is typically redundant and time-consuming, InSight has been a strong advocate for compacts as they create a more streamlined process for licensure in participating states. Furthermore, InSight recently joined the ATA’s Interstate Special Interest Group that focuses on increasing states’ uptake in introducing compact legislation and on education around the benefits of these compacts.

Overall, InSight is committed to the growth of appropriate, clinically sound telepsychiatry and will continue to advocate for telehealth friendly policies and regulations across the county. Backed with 20 years of experience, InSight is prepared to help influence positive telehealth regulations for years to come.

About InSight Telepsychiatry

InSight is the leading national telepsychiatry service provider organization with a mission to increase access to quality behavioral health care through innovative applications of technology.  InSight has over two decades of telepsychiatry experience and serves hundreds of organizations across the country with its on-demand, scheduled services and Inpathy divisions. InSight is uniquely positioned to offer scalable telepsychiatry services in settings across the continuum of care. InSight has a diverse team of psychiatry providers, a robust internal infrastructure and a history of adapting its programs to fit the needs of a variety of different settings and populations.  InSight has led the growth of the telepsychiatry industry and remains an industry thought leader and advocate.  To learn more about telepsychiatry and how it can benefit you or your organization, visit www.InSightTelepsychiatry.com.

The Value of Telepsychiatry in the ED – Six Benefits to Cutting Psychiatric Boarding Through Telehealth

Originally Published in Telemedicine Magazine 

By: Olivia Boyce and Christopher Adams

Hospitals throughout the nation are plagued with psychiatric patients boarding in their emergency departments (EDs). The wait times for psychiatric patients to see a psychiatrist for that evaluation can take hours or even days. A report of 300 ED directors found that 41% of EDs have a wait time of over two days to see a psychiatrist.[1]

One solution that is helping to reduce psychiatric boarding in EDs across the country is on-demand telepsychiatry.

“The goal of on-demand telepsychiatry evaluations is for the remote psychiatrist to decide on the most appropriate and least restrictive level of care,” says Dr. Jim Varrell, Medical Director of InSight Telepsychiatry, the largest private telepsychiatry company in the US.

“By having a psychiatrist available to do the assessment, on-demand telepsychiatry programs help hospital systems avoid inappropriate admissions, shorten length of stays and improve overall ED patient flow,” explains Dr. Varrell.

1. Shorten ED Wait Times 

According to Dr. Varrell, with on-demand telepsychiatry, psychiatric assessments are able to occur within about an hour of a request on average. Since psychiatric patients typically spend over 3 times longer in the ED than medical patients,[2] telepsychiatry’s timeliness means that psychiatric patients are able to move on to the next level of care much more quickly.

This improvement results in shortened wait times for all patients within the ED, and ultimately an increase in revenue for the hospital system.

2. Increase Hospital Revenue

A study done on the impacts of psychiatric boarding found that boarders prevent an average of 2.2 bed turnovers which results in a lost opportunity cost for the hospital of $2264 per psychiatric patient.[3] By implementing telepsychiatry and improving the rate of bed throughput, a hospital is ultimately able to increase revenue.

3. Reduce Inappropriate Commitments 

Another way telepsychiatry programs are adding value to hospital systems is by reducing costly inappropriate commitments.

South Seminole Hospital in Longwood, FL is an Orlando Health Facility that implemented a telepsychiatry program in November 2014. Through videoconferencing, South Seminole’s ED staff accesses a telepsychiatrist when they have difficult cases or when they need to determine whether an individual who came in under Florida’s civil commitment law, merits psychiatric hospitalization. According to the hospital’s data, during the first six months of the program, one third of the involuntary commitments assessed by telepsychiatrists were rescinded. [4]

“Telepsychiatry allows us to make sure that the psychiatric patients in our ED move on to the most appropriate treatment, whether that is hospitalization or community-based care quickly,” says Charles Webb Manager of the ED at South Seminole Hospital. “When patients don’t have to wait as long for care, they are able to get on a path to better health sooner.”

4. Improve Compliance with Joint Commission Standards

Access to timely care means that hospitals are more likely to be able to meet standards for patient care set by regulating bodies like The Joint Commission who advocate that patient boarding times not exceed 4 hours.

“When hospitals are able to reduce psychiatric boarding from say 14 hours to under 4, there are other financial benefits,” explains Dr. Varrell. “The average sitter for a psychiatric patient costs $15 per hour. By cutting 10 hours from the time a psychiatric patient waits for care, that’s $150 per patient saved on just sitter costs.”

5. Empower and Support Onsite Staff

At a more operational level, the implementation of a telepsychiatry program is reported to better empower onsite staff to handle psychiatric patients. For example, after a telepsychiatry program had been in place for several months at Chester County Hospital in Pennsylvania, the hospital saw an increase in their clearing and placing psychiatric patients without telepsychiatrybecause staff reported greater confidence in their abilities to assess difficult cases knowing that they had a specialist available for consult or assessment when needed.[5]

Dr. Varrell explains that this case study is an example of why collaboration between remote and onsite staff lends itself to the most effective telepsychiatry programs. “Telepsychiatrists are most effective when they establish a rapport and team-approach with the onsite staff. The remote psychiatrists benefits from onsite staff sharing difficult-to-collect information like odor or agitation in the waiting room while the onsite staff benefits from having the expertise of a team of psychiatrists who they know and trust on-call.”

 6. Expand Psychiatric Capacities Within Hospitals and Beyond

Because telepsychiatrists are able to work from remote or home offices and don’t have to be in-person at the emergency department, it is much easier to staff difficult hours like weekends, nights and holidays.

Ultimately, establishing an ED telepsychiatry program can set up a health system to more effectively manage the psychiatric needs of an entire community or population. In addition to using telepsychiatrists within EDs, many systems are also expanding programs into other settings within the hospital and beyond.

“It’s important to design a telepsychiatry system with growth in mind from the beginning,” explains Dr. Varrell.

For example, hospitals are using telepsychiatry on their Med/Surg floors and on their inpatient units for weekend and overnight rounding.

Within communities, telepsychiatrists commonly serve community mental health centers, outpatient clinics, correctional facilities, primary care offices and other settings where it is difficult to staff and retain onsite physicians.

More creatively, newer direct-to-consumer models of telepsychiatry are gaining popularity as a convenient way to access services and follow-up care outside of a traditional setting and potentially from home or another private space. Some health systems and insurance companies are beginning to refer psychiatric patients leaving the hospital to in-home telehealth options that make them more likely to attend their follow up appointments and less likely to end back up in the hospital.

“Telepsychiatry can be challenging to implement because it’s a change and it requires the buy-in of many parties,” says Webb. “But ultimately, the return on investment is clear.”



[1] Schumacher Group. (2010) Emergency department challenges and trends. 2010 survey of hospital emergency department administrators.

[2,3] Nicks and Manthey. “The Impact of Psychiatric Patient Boarding in Emergency Departments.” Emergency Medical International. 2012.

[4] Orlando Health Telepsychiatry Data 2014-2015.

[5] Cuyler, Robert. Chester County Hospital Emergency Psychiatry Case Study, 2012.


Paul Olson of InSight Recognized among Philadelphia Business Journal’s 2019 CFOs of the Year

Paul Olson, CFO, Chief Financial Officer

MARLTON, NJ – Paul Olson, Chief Financial Officer of InSight Telepsychiatry, was recently named 2019 CFO of the Year by the Philadelphia Business Journal.

This award is given to financial executives in the Greater Philadelphia area in recognition of their financial stewardship and contributions to their respective organizations and communities.  Award recipients are selected based on their demonstrated commitment to fiscal integrity and accountability, contribution to their organization’s growth and profitability and strategic involvement in strengthening their organization’s competitive foothold in the market.

Olson has served as CFO at InSight Telepsychiatry since 2017.  During his tenure with InSight, Mr. Olson has led the separation of InSight from its former parent company, guided the organization’s growth strategies and led the organization’s successful recapitalization with Harbour Point Capital.

Mr. Olson is passionate about supporting the behavioral health community.  In addition to his work at InSight, he serves on the Board of Directors of Search for Change, a non-profit organization that provides services to individuals transitioning from behavioral health facilities to independent living.

“I am humbled to be recognized along with such an esteemed group of peers in the Greater Philadelphia business community and look forward to scaling InSight for growth and carrying out our mission alongside the most dedicated group of colleagues in behavioral healthcare,” said Olson.

Geoffrey Boyce, CEO of InSight Telepsychiatry, extended his congratulations and appreciation for the work Mr. Olson has done to position the organization for success now and in the future.  Boyce shared, “Paul is a trusted colleague, advisor, and strategic partner and is not only responsible for the financial integrity of our organization, but also for playing an instrumental role in shaping our strategy and advancing our mission to transform access to quality behavioral health care through technology.  This honor is well deserved.  Thank you to the Philadelphia Business Journal for recognizing his contributions as well as those of his peers at other area organizations.”

The Philadelphia Business Journal will present Olson with his award during their 2019 CFO of the Year Awards ceremony on July, 18, 2019, in Center City.

About InSight Telepsychiatry

InSight is the leading national telepsychiatry service provider organization with a mission to increase access to quality behavioral health care through innovative applications of technology. InSight’s psychiatry providers bring care into multiple settings on an on-demand or scheduled basis. InSight has two decades of telepsychiatry experience and is an industry thought-leader. More information can be found at www.InSightTelepsychiatry.com.

Telemedicine Licensure Gives Doctors a Chance to Expand Their Reach

Originally posted on mHealth Intelligence

To Dr. Bruce Miewald, telemedicine licensure isn’t a means to acquire more patients and do more business. It’s an opportunity to reach out and help people in other parts of the country who need his expertise.

The Coeur D’Alene, Idaho-based physician who specializes in child psychiatry is poised to become one of the first in the country to complete the licensure process through the Interstate Medical Licensure Compact, which went live last year. Once completed, he’ll have the chance to work with health systems – and, more importantly, patients – in distant states where access to a psychiatrist is limited.

“I don’t need a business boost – I’m always very busy,” says Miewald, who’s been practicing for 27 years. “But there are places where I can be really useful.”

Miewald’s specialty is in strong demand all across the country. Between 1995 and 2013, the total number of adult and child psychiatrists in the US rose by 12 percent, to just under 50,000. Yet the number of physicians in the country rose by 45 percent during that time span, and the nation’s population increased by 37 percent, according to the Association of American Medical Colleges.

Meanwhile, according to the physician search firm Merritt Hawkins, close to 60 percent of the nation’s psychiatrists are 55 or older and about 48 percent are 60 or older and nearing retirement, making them the fourth-oldest group of doctors practicing among 41 medical specialties.

At the same time, the need for psychiatrists is intensifying.

“As accountable care organizations and managed care organizations seek solutions that meet the Triple Aim of improving care, improving health outcomes and reducing cost, they will increasingly turn to psychiatrists for their help and guidance,” the National Council for Behavioral Health reported in a March 2017 study on the national psychiatric shortage. “The lack of an adequately trained workforce, however, poses a serious challenge in meeting this demand.”

“Since the passage of the Affordable Care Act, more Americans are now insured and are seeking treatment,” Dr. Atul Grover, executive vice president of the Association of American Medical Colleges, told Forbes Magazine in a June 2017 story. “Mental health parity laws have resulted in better behavioral health coverage than there was 20 years ago. In addition, demand is higher because there is greater awareness of, and willingness to talk about, mental health issues.”

Miewald, who’s affiliated with Kootenai Health-Coeur D’Alene, is part of Insight Telepsychiatry, a New Jersey-based national telepsychiatry provider. He’d held licenses in the past to practice in Montana and Pennsylvania, and has long used a video-based platform to facilitate his practice.

“I was it – the only child psychiatrist for that population in the five northern counties” of Idaho, he says. “I used to see people who would have to drive 90 miles one way, and driving through Idaho in winter can be kind of interesting. So [telemedicine] gave me a chance to make that easier.”

But there’s a real need for his services in Iowa and West Virginia, and he’s looking to complete the IMLC process to make himself available, through Insight’s network, to hospitals and clinics in those states.

“I’m not seeing that it’s going to be much different from what I’m doing here,” he says. “It’s just that I’d like to help out where I’m needed.”

Casey Papp, InSight’s Quality and Compliance Manager, helped Miewald with the process. They started by supplying background information and filling out attestation and eligibility forms from Miewald’s home state. Once approval was granted in Idaho, they selected additional states within the IMLC network to apply for accreditation.

“Every state is a little bit different in what they want,” says Papp. “You have to make sure you have everything lined up. It’s easier [than before the IMLC was enacted], but it could be even easier.”

Still, Miewald says the compact gives physicians like himself an opportunity to help where they’re most needed. Using a telemedicine platform, he can schedule in blocks of time to see patients in those other states, fitting that in around his own workflow.

“In my experience, I’d say 99 percent of the people think it works just as well” as an in-person visit, he says of the telemedicine platform. “And it saves a lot of time and travel. And with the kids, in some ways they seem to enjoy it more.”

Building a Better Behavioral Health Benefit with Telepsychiatry

By: Barry Doan

Original article published on Benefits Pro

The value of an employer’s health benefit strategy is intrinsically linked to its ability to address an employee’s total health—both physical and mental. That’s why overall wellness trends are shifting to better acknowledge the strong connection between a robust behavioral health care benefit and better overall health, ultimately resulting in improved employee productivity.

While many wellness programs today incorporate tactics that promote positive behavioral lifestyle changes, they often fall short of systematically addressing behavioral health conditions that can hinder an employee’s willingness and ability to embrace those needed changes. Altering entrenched behavioral health lifestyle patterns can be difficult, even if it’s a change that would be beneficial for the member. For instance, diabetic employees are much less likely to engage in diet and exercise programs when they are struggling with active depression that robs them of energy, focus and motivation. These members often represent a substantial percentage of those with chronic health conditions who make up a disproportional share of total healthcare expenditures.

This reality is why many companies are setting their sights on comprehensive employee “well-being” as opposed to “wellness” alone. By prioritizing access to both physical and behavioral health care, employers set the stage for more systemic and long-lasting engagement in self-care—and ultimately improve employee well-being, productivity and the bottom line. It’s important to note, however, that while many companies have invested heavily in identifying high-risk, high-cost employees and programs to engage these employees, access to care is still a major obstacle to this change process.

As part of this shift, many employers are incorporating telemedicine options into health benefit packages as a viable solution for addressing access issues related to traditional in-office care. Telepsychiatry is emerging as a growing opportunity within this movement as an effective means of overcoming common barriers to behavioral health utilization such as stigma, busy lifestyles and poor coordination of services. These models help attract busy and reluctant employees who might otherwise procrastinate getting the help they need.

As a clinical model that leverages videoconferencing technology, telepsychiatry and telebehavioral health are used for evaluations, consultations and ongoing treatment. Employees access this care through live, interactive communication with a licensed psychiatry or behavioral health provider in a private setting. This improved access allows employees to not only address their behavioral health concerns before issues become more acute and costly, but also to reduce the behavioral health impairment that interferes with their ability and desire to engage in employer wellness programs.

The behavioral health challenge

The statistics speak for themselves. Behavioral health issues were the leading cause of disability in 2015, accounting for one-third of new claims.

Depression, for instance, ranks high as an employer health challenge, racking up an estimated $210.5 billion per year — nearly half of which is attributed to workplace absenteeism and productivity losses. In fact, one study points to employer costs as high as $3,386 per individual over a two-year period prior to an employee’s depression diagnosis.

Behavioral health issues often impact the effectiveness of wellness programs directed at physical conditions due to existing co-morbidities. One study found that 45 percent of breast cancer patients also had a psychiatric disorder.

While these statistics may be startling, the good news is that companies can achieve notable return on investment in wellness and complex condition management programs by investing in mental health treatment. In one study, researchers found that for every dollar spent treating depression, $1.55 was spent on the effects of depression in the workplace.

It’s not always easy to quantify the impact of behavioral health treatment, but human resource managers overwhelmingly agree that a healthy, well balanced employee is a better teammate and more productive worker. Often, the problem is getting employees to utilize the behavioral health benefits that are already available to them.

Consider a common example: A company launches an active lifestyle program that includes tracking daily physical activity as one means of supporting the employee’s goals of improving her health. A single mom in the workforce, who already struggles with mild depression and anxiety, finds it difficult to rise to the challenge of addressing her wellness goals. Feelings of guilt and inadequacy over this “failure” exacerbate her behavioral health conditions, ultimately decreasing her physical activity and lowering her overall health scores. Unfortunately, the wellness coach does not recognize the behavioral health condition that is impairing participation and fails to make an appropriate referral for additional professional support. The employee becomes demoralized, feels even worse and drops out of the program, and an opportunity is lost.

Even when the employee recognizes the underlying behavioral health condition that is compromising her health and happiness, she may have challenges taking the desired action to address it. While an existing behavioral health benefit would cover the employee’s treatment, she still must do the following research:

  • Identify what is wrong and what type of provider she needs to find
  • Determine what her benefits cover
  • Find which providers can she see that are covered
  • Schedule her appointment
  • Manage the logistics of attending the appointment which may include taking time off and arranging child care and transportation

Taking hold of the telepsychiatry opportunity

Offering telepsychiatry and other behavioral health care services as part of employee benefits is a trend on the rise, and for good reason

When employees can access psychiatrists and therapists from the comfort of their home or another private space, the behavioral health stigmas are reduced, and individuals are more apt to follow through with care plans. Privacy and confidentiality are also stronger with telepsychiatry because online sessions eliminate the potential of individuals seeing someone they know in a waiting room. Many patients also report greater comfort addressing difficult issues while in familiar surroundings.

Additionally, telepsychiatry expands scheduling options and provider choice, opening the door to greater access. Work and family schedules, for instance, can limit the ability of employees to access traditional services provided in an office setting. Through telepsychiatry, employees can schedule appointments in evenings or on weekends in addition to traditional weekday time slots, which reduces absenteeism or tardiness from work.

The reality is that patient satisfaction trends are higher with online psychotherapy as opposed to traditional face-to-face treatment. While telepsychiatry and telebehavioral health are not for every person, this approach to care addresses many of the common barriers to receiving prompt, professional behavioral health treatment that sets the stage for greater overall health and wellbeing.

Employers seeking to achieve the greatest return on health plan investment are wise to consider telepsychiatry and telebehavioral health as means for promoting use of behavioral health benefits. This effective model of care provides the needed framework for improving access to appropriate healthcare resources and empowering employees to take more control of their health.

Dena Ferrell: A Decade of Service, Leadership and Impact in Behavioral Health

Dena Ferrell, Operations Director of InSight Telepsychiatry

Over the course of a decade, the use of online health care has evolved rapidly both in popularity and technologically. Today, there is a widespread acceptance for easy access to care across the continuum through telehealth, especially with the treatment of behavioral health. Telepsychiatry has given those that have limited access to behavioral health care a chance to seek care at their convenience from any location. Dena Ferrell is no stranger to this progression. Celebrating her 10-year anniversary with the CFG Health Network and InSight Telepsychiatry this year, she has witnessed the expansion of telehealth and telepsychiatry, as well as the increased access to behavioral health treatment.

At the outset of her freshman year of college, Ferrell stepped onto the campus of Rutgers University with dreams of conquering the corporate business world. She enrolled in all of the pre-requisite classes she would need to pursue a business degree, as well as one psychology course.  Ferrell soon discovered business was not the right fit for her. She followed her gut and changed her major to what she knew she would enjoy more – psychology.

“I had some family members with mental illness and always wanted to help people in general, so it was a great fit,” said Ferrell.

Ferrell’s educational background provided the basis for what would result in a long career of service in the behavioral health field.  As InSight’s operations director, Dena is an influential and respected leader across the organization.

Ferrell’s first job out of Rutgers was at a partial care program in a community mental health center, where she worked with a small group of patients with severe and persistent mental illness in a vocational rehab setting. Ferrell continued her career in behavioral health at Newpoint Behavioral Health Care in 1995, where she spent 12 years as a New Jersey state Certified Mental Health Screener. She conducted evaluations of adults and children in emergency department (ED) psychiatric crises, consulted with psychiatrists and appropriate dispositions and provided 24 hour coverage on their suicide hotline. Newpoint was a partner of CFG and one of the first organizations to pilot telepsychiatry, so Ferrell was able to be an early telepsychiatry adopter during her work there.

“Telepsychiatry allowed me to establish a treatment plan for a crisis patient very quickly,” said Ferrell. “It was clear to me way back then that telepsychiatry was going to be a very important part in behavioral health moving forward.  Telepsychiatry was not widely used back then and it is so nice to see other programs and services utilizing it now.”

Today, Ferrell still has close ties to the team at NewPoint, who have remained a valued InSight Telepsychiatry and CFG partner since those early days.

Following her stint at Newpoint, Ferrell began her career with the CFG Health Network as an intake coordinator and ED case manager for Virtua Behavioral Health. She coordinated patient referrals to Virtua’s behavioral health unit from crisis centers, medical hospitals and clinicians, gathered all pertinent clinical, medial and demographic information and presented each case to the psychiatrist.

Overtime, Ferrell took on the role of managing CFG’s call center, the Access Center. The Access Center at that time primarily served CFG’s clients, while a small part of the call volume was dedicated to InSight Telepsychiatry, CFG’s growing telemedicine arm. However, as time passed and InSight expanded, a growing amount of the Access Center’s work was dedicated to InSight. InSight grew from serving just a few partners in surrounding states to a national operation with hundreds of partners across 28 states. Today, the Access Center is the main hub for monitoring InSight’s on-demand 24/7 telepsychiatry services.

In early 2017, the Access Center rolled-out a new telepsychiatry platform, AccessInSight. Partners generate requests via AccessInSight and cases are automatically assigned to the InSight telepsychiatry provider best suited for that interaction. AccessInSight improves efficiencies for telepsychiatry encounters and allows for advanced data tracking – certainly a big change from the Access Center’s early days!

“The technology for telepsychiatry and telehealth has improved so much since my start,” said Ferrell. “Years ago, we used large, cumbersome equipment that had to be plugged in to various outlets and at the time it was not the norm to talk to someone via video. Today the equipment is much more streamlined and a connection can be made by the click of a button.  Since many people use video in their day to day communications, it is much more accepted now.”

She expects the use of telepsychiatry will continue to grow, especially the direct to consumer services.

“Lawmakers, regulators and insurance payers are now recognizing telehealth as a covered benefit that provides a much-needed service,” said Ferrell. “It seems everyone is recognizing there are better ways of doing things, and telehealth is one of them.”

Along with the growing use of telepsychiatry in the past 10 years, Ferrell has seen growth within InSight as well. She described how InSight has become much more sophisticated in recruiting, onboarding new providers and implementing new programs. The addition of staff over the past decade has been beneficial in keeping up with the volume of partner sites and providers joining the InSight team. InSight has also smartly stayed focused on partnering with like-minded organizations that share InSight’s vision of increasing access to care.

Most people fail to realize what goes on behind the scenes, and the passion that goes into the work and dedication of providing access to behavioral health care. Ferrell’s motivation lies in knowing that in every contract InSight serves for any service line, there is a patient and their family in need of help during a very difficult time of their lives. “I am so happy to be part of that service,” said Ferrell.

Ferrell envisions a bright future for telepsychiatry. She believes the stigma for mental illnesses will decrease, and more people will be open to receiving behavioral health care both in-person and online.

Where does Ferrell see herself in the next 10 years? “I’d love to say retired! I will still be in the mental health field in some capacity.  I have a very good understanding of behavioral health needs and like using that experience to help the patients who need it most.”

InSight Telepsychiatry Hosts Webinar on the Implications of the Recently Passed New Jersey Telemedicine Legislation

telehealth advocacy

InSight Telepsychiatry Hosts Webinar on the Implications of the Recently Passed New Jersey Telemedicine Legislation

Marlton, NJ – On December 5th, 2017 InSight Telepsychiatry hosted a webinar titled “What NJ’s Telemedicine Policy Means for Behavioral Health.” The webinar recording can be accessed here.

After viewing the webinar, participants will:

  • Understand what changes for behavioral health care with NJ’s new telehealth policy
  • Look at how new NJ telehealth policy changes how your organization provides care
  • Learn how to provide care in the context of the state’s new policies

The webinar was presented by Geoffrey Boyce, the Executive Director of InSight Telepsychiatry and an advocate for the appropriate use and value of telebehavioral health. Boyce discussed the new telehealth law and how it differs from previous regulation and also reviewed the key aspects of the bill and how they will affect the behavioral health industry and organizations that partner with behavioral health organizations.

Finally, Boyce looked at how the law can be used to expand access to psychiatry, mental and behavioral health care across the care continuum. Attendees will learn how they can use this bill to be active participants in changing the behavioral health industry.

“We’re enthused by the opportunities for improved access to care that this new law brings to the telemedicine industry and to New Jersey,” says Geoffrey Boyce, Executive Director of InSight Telepsychiatry. “We’re happy to share these updates with stakeholders in the field so they can be applied at their respective organizations.”

Over the summer, New Jersey passed the telehealth legislation making it one of the most innovative and supportive telemedicine states in the country. The state is already home to a handful of telemedicine programs, and the new law provides the opportunity for the continued expansion of telemedicine.

About InSight Telepsychiatry

InSight is the leading national telepsychiatry service provider organization with a mission to increase access to quality behavioral health care through telehealth. InSight’s behavioral health providers bring care into any setting on an on-demand or scheduled basis. InSight has 18+ years of telepsychiatry experience and is an industry thought-leader. More information can be found at www.InSightTelepsychiatry.com.

InSight Listed as a Top Company to Look Out for in Tele-Psych

InSight Telepsychiatry was mentioned in the print version of Telemedicine Magazine’s article, “The Massive Benefits of Tele-Psych Have Yet to Be Realized.

The article, published in June 2017 (Issue #9), describes how the decrease in providers and increase in demand is causing healthcare companies to create tele-psych networks. It goes on to elaborate how telepsychiatry has grown exponentially within the past decade, especially in rural areas, and how investors are driving its rapid technology and platform development.

Telemedicine Magazine is a print publication distributed quarterly to approximately 30,000 readers, including physicians and C suite health tech executives. The magazine covers the telemedicine, digital health and virtual care markets.

InSight is listed under the “Market Watch” section of the print article as one of the top companies to look out for in the tele-psych space. Other organizations mentioned are Iris Telehealth, JSA Health, Brighter Day Health and We Counsel.

Read the full article here.

Stewart Memorial Community Hospital Launches Telepsychiatry Program

Lake City, IA – Stewart Memorial Community Hospital, a general medical and surgical hospital with 25 beds, launched a telepsychiatry program this week to increase access to psychiatric care. Located in Calhoun County, Lake City is a rural area with a shortage of mental health professionals, as designated by the Rural Health Clinics Program and the Federal Office of Rural Health.[1]

Telepsychiatry is the delivery of psychiatry through real time videoconferencing. It is proven to be an effective form of care delivery and a great way to expand the psychiatric support at a hospital, especially during difficult to staff hours like nights and weekends.

In a primarily rural state such as Iowa, patients often have limited or no access to timely, affordable and quality care. This is especially prevalent in regards to psychiatric care. With telepsychiatry, emergency departments can efficiently address each patient that comes in, reduce admissions and decrease patient wait times.  Having access to telepsychiatry can also help reduce psychiatric boarding and help make sure that those admitted to psychiatric beds actually need them. This is particularly useful in Iowa which, according to the Treatment Advocacy Center, ranks second worst in the country for number of inpatient psychiatric beds with just 64 in the entire state.[2]

The telepsychiatry program is launched in partnership with InSight, a national telepsychiatry service provider organization. Telepsychiatry services are provided in the emergency department to help ensure patients struggling with mental health issues are properly treated. This gives room for other patients that come into the emergency department that may have potentially life threatening illnesses.

“Partners like Stewart Memorial Community Hospital exemplify the great impact telepsychiatry can have at a community level. Telepsychiatry has been shown to increase access to mental health care in rural areas and we’re pleased to expand that within communities like Lake City,” said InSight’s Operations Director Dena Ferrell.

“Stewart Memorial is always looking to incorporate innovative new programs that help our patients achieve a healthy mind and body. Our partnership with InSight will help better address the behavioral health needs in our community,” said Cindy Carsten, CEO of Stewart Memorial.

Stewart Memorial is served by 13 InSight telepsychiatry providers. All InSight telepsychiatry providers are licensed in Iowa and trained to provide care to Stewart Memorial patients in the same way as all onsite providers. Stewart Memorial’s partnership with InSight will help transform care in the emergency department and increase efficiency so that all patients are able to receive the care they need.

About InSight Telepsychiatry
InSight is the leading national telepsychiatry service provider organization with a mission to increase access to quality behavioral health care through telehealth. InSight’s behavioral health providers bring care into any setting on an on-demand or scheduled basis. InSight has 18+ years of telepsychiatry experience and is an industry thought-leader. More information can be found at www.InSightTelepsychiatry.com.

About Stewart Memorial Community Hospital
Stewart Memorial is committed to quality health and wellness for you and your family. Our goal is to transform our communities by providing coordinated care and exceptional experiences.

[1] Rural Health. (n.d.). Retrieved August 07, 2017, from https://www.ruralhealthinfo.org/am-i-rural/report?lat=42.26715&lng=-94.74603&addr=1301 W Main St%2C Lake City%2C IA 51449&exact=1

[2] Fuller, D. A., Sinclair, E., Geller, J., Quanbeck, C., & Snook, J. (n.d.). Going, Going, Gone TRENDS AND CONSEQUENCES OF ELIMINATING STATE PSYCHIATRIC BEDS, 2016. Retrieved August 8, 2017, from http://www.treatmentadvocacycenter.org/storage/documents/going-going-gone.pdf


Family Service Launches Outpatient Telepsychiatry Program

Philadelphia, PA – Family Service Association of Bucks County launched an outpatient telepsychiatry program to increase efficiency and access to psychiatric care for adults, children and adolescents across four of their locations in Bucks County, Pennsylvania. The telepsychiatry program is launched in partnership with InSight, a national telepsychiatry service provider organization.

Telepsychiatry is the delivery of psychiatry through real time videoconferencing. It is proven to be an effective form of care delivery and a convenient, cost-effective way to safely expand the psychiatric support without the challenge of staffing an in-person psychiatry provider.family service

Prior to implementing a telepsychiatry program, Family Service staffed an onsite psychiatrist that would travel between Langhorne, Doylestown and Quakertown locations. With telepsychiatry, Family Service was able to increase efficiency and reduce costly, time consuming commutes.

“Telepsychiatry allows organizations like Family Service to reduce commute time for providers and patients. This allows for more valuable time with patients,” said InSight’s Operations Manager of Scheduled Services Nate Ortiz.

It is estimated that 1,051,490 individuals in Pennsylvania are living with serious psychological distress including major depressive disorder, bipolar disorder, panic disorder or anxiety.[1] Telepsychiatry is a great solution in Pennsylvania and in many other states across the nation where there is a shortage of psychiatry providers.

“We are thrilled to be able to offer this innovative new service to our patients. We are dedicated to increasing psychiatric access to all consumers, and this is a smart way to ensure our patients are getting the care that they need on a consistent basis,” said Audrey J. Tucker, Chief Executive Officer.

InSight’s telepsychiatry provider will offer these services to patients in Family Service outpatient behavioral health programs, namely counseling.

About InSight Telepsychiatry

InSight is the leading national telepsychiatry service provider organization with a mission to increase access to quality behavioral health care through telehealth. InSight’s behavioral health providers bring care into any setting on an on-demand or scheduled basis. InSight has 18+ years of telepsychiatry experience and is an industry thought-leader. More information can be found at www.InSightTelepsychiatry.com.

About Family Service Association of Bucks County

Family Service Association of Bucks County is a nonprofit social service organization with locations throughout Bucks County, Pennsylvania. Family Service’s mission is to listen, care and help. Every day. For more than 60 years, Family Service has been improving the lives of children and their families, doing whatever it takes to help them overcome obstacles and reach their full potential. Visit www.fsabc.org to donate, volunteer or learn more about how Family Service helped more than 27,000 children, teens and adults last year.

[1] National Institutes of Mental Health, National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) 2015, and

NSDUH-MHSS 2008-2012.

New Jersey Takes Momentous Step with Signing of Telemedicine Legislation

TRENTON, NJ – New Jersey Governor Chris Christie signed Bill No. A1464 and S291/652/1954 on July 21st which allows for the practice and reimbursement of telemedicine and telehealth across the state. Before being signed by the governor, the telemedicine bill had bipartisan support and was passed unanimously through the New Jersey General Assembly and the Senate.

“Telehealth” as defined by the bill is the use of information and communications technologies to support clinical healthcare, and “telemedicine” is defined as the delivery of a health care service using electronic communications to bridge the gap between a health care provider and a patient. Telemedicine and telehealth are rapidly growing across the U.S. The American Telemedicine Association estimates that over half of U.S. hospitals use some form of telemedicine. Telemedicine has proven to be particularly effective for increasing access to care from specialty providers who no longer have to be physically present to deliver care.

One example of specialty care that this telemedicine law will help bring to New Jersey is access to child and adolescent psychiatry. New Jersey is estimated to need at least 3 times more child and adolescent psychiatrists in order to qualify as having a “sufficient supply” by the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry.

While telemedicine policies vary in each state, the signing of this bill will make New Jersey one of the most innovative and patient-centered telemedicine states in the country. The state is already home to a handful of telemedicine programs, and the new law will provide the opportunity for the continued expansion of telemedicine.

“We’re enthused by the opportunities for improved access to care that this new law brings to the telemedicine industry and to New Jersey,” says Geoffrey Boyce, Executive Director of InSight Telepsychiatry, a national telepsychiatry service provider headquartered in New Jersey who helped to draft and advocate the bill. “We are thankful for the years of hard work the legislators and other advocates have put into making this come to life.”

Some of the highlights of the new legislation include:

  • They allow New Jersey to join only a handful of states that require reimbursement for telemedicine services to the same extent as for in-person treatments and consultations.
  • They take New Jersey from being only one of two states that lack an official definition of telemedicine to a state that defines how telemedicine can and should be safely and appropriately practiced.
  • They allow greater access to care for patients who were previously not covered for telemedicine services.  Greater access to care is expected to result in better outcomes for patients with chronic diseases and decreased expenditures over time.
  • They allow patients to receive care from the comfort of their own homes when appropriate.
  • They remove the requirement for mental health screeners to obtain an unnecessary, special waiver for services provided through telemedicine.
  • They allow a large range of providers to practice telemedicine including: licensed physicians, nurses, nurse practitioners, psychologists, psychiatrists, psychoanalysts, clinical social workers, physician assistants, professional counselors, respiratory therapists, speech pathologists, audiologists and optometrists.  This wide range of providers will increase the number of services that New Jersey residents can access.
  • They involve minimal cost to the state while providing greater access to care and better outcomes for patients.

The  legislators who helped champion this bill and ensure that New Jersey residents have better access to care include: Pam Lampitt (D), Joseph Vitale (D), Herb Conaway Jr. (D), Craig Coughlin (D), Valerie Vainieri Huttle (D), Joe Lagana (D), Raj Mukherji (D), Jim Whelan (D), Diane Allen (R) and Shirley Turner (D).

The enactment of this bill is a significant step for the telehealth industry and increased access to care in the state of New Jersey.

InSight Brings Telepsychiatry Services to the Yellowstone County Detention Facility

BILLINGS, MT – Located in south central Montana, Yellowstone County is Montana’s most populous with an estimated 144,797 residents in 2009, according to the Montana Department of Commerce. The Yellowstone County Detention Facility brings six hours a week of InSight telepsychiatry services to their inmates from Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner, Renée Brunner Houser.

Renée Brunner Houser, PMHNP, MSN is a Montana licensed psychiatric nurse practitioner who has worked as a psychiatric nurse practitioner and registered nurse in a variety of settings such as psychiatric hospitals, inpatient/outpatient health centers, hospice facilities and public schools. InSight will provide first time evaluations, follow up care, medication management and more.

According the National Alliance on Mental Illness, at least 83% of jail inmates with a mental illness did not have access to needed treatment. In addition, telepsychiatry is found to improve access to mental health services for inmates and save correctional facilities from $12,000 to more than $1 million [1]. InSight brings years of experience in correctional facility psychiatric care to serve Yellowstone’s inmates and increase access to care when they need it the most.

[1] Deslich, S. (2013). Telepsychiatry in Correctional Facilities: Using Technology to Improve Access and Decrease Costs of Mental Health Care in Underserved Populations. The Permanente Journal,17(3), 80-86. doi:10.7812/tpp/12-123

Telepsychiatry Long-Term Partnership a Continued Success

InSight Telepsychiaty and NewPoint Behavioral Healthcare Continue to Reduce Emergency Department Wait Times with Telepsychiatry for 15 Years

MARLTON, NJ — After 15 years of service, InSight Telepsychiatry and NewPoint Behavioral Healthcare continue to provide successful telepsychiatry services to individuals requiring emergency behavioral healthcare.

Winona InSight

As a New Jersey designated screening center, NewPoint Behavioral Healthcare provides behavioral health services such as emergency assessments, crisis intervention and referrals to inpatient psychiatric organizations.

The services offered by NewPoint Behavioral Healthcare combine traditional treatment options with telepsychiatry. When an individual enters a screening center during a psychiatric crisis, an on-site behavioral health screener conducts an initial assessment. The screener then meets with an InSight provider through phone or videoconference to determine diagnosis and treatment options. This could include admission, prescribing of medication or referral to follow-up care.

“NewPoint Behavioral Healthcare screeners truly develop a strong rapport with InSight’s providers,” says InSight’s Director of Operations Dena Ferrell, who worked as a behavioral health screener for the organization prior to joining InSight in 2007. “InSight providers really enjoy a friendly and productive working relationship that adds value to this partnership,” she added.

The partnerships success is exemplified through conducting over 200 telepsychiatry sessions in 2015 alone. “We use telepsychiatry 24/7 and most feel just as satisfied as they are with face-to-face psychiatrist sessions,” said Vikki McFadden, NewPoint Behavioral Healthcare’s Clinical Coordinator of Psychiatric Emergency Screening. “Before we were able to utilize telepsychiatry clients in other emergency room settings would sometimes wait days to be sent to the screening host,” McFadden added.

“The technology has gotten better,” says Jennifer Plews, NewPoint Behavioral Healthcare’s Director of Psychiatric Emergency, describing how telepsychiatry used to be delivered on a heavy cart with a monitor versus a cart that can now be easily pushed with one hand.

As one of InSight’s longest partnerships, NewPoint Behavioral Healthcare has seen firsthand how telepsychiatry has evolved. With a mission to provide a spectrum of quality services to maximize individual potential through education and empowerment, NewPoint Behavioral Healthcare has served communities in New Jersey for nearly 60 years through more than 16 outpatient behavioral health programs offering effective, affordable psychiatric screenings.

About InSight Telepsychiatry

InSight is the leading national telepsychiatry service provider organization with a mission to increase access to quality behavioral health care through telehealth. InSight’s behavioral health providers bring care into any setting on an on-demand or scheduled basis. InSight has 18+ years of telepsychiatry experience and is an industry thought-leader. Forty percent of InSight’s telepsychiatry providers are child and adolescent psychiatrists. More information can be found at www.InSightTelepsychiatry.com.

About NewPoint Behavioral Healthcare

The mission of NewPoint Behavioral Healthcare is to provide a spectrum of quality services to maximize individual potential through education and empowerment. NewPoint Behavioral Healthcare is committed to be the leader of quality mental health services in the region.

Telepsychiatry: Raising the Bar on Access to Mental Health Care

By Dr. James Varrell, Telepsychiatrist and Medical Director of InSight

As May—Mental Health Awareness Month—rolls around each year, health care stakeholders are reminded to reflect on the notable achievements and strides made in mental health treatment. The industry continues to forge new paths in terms of technological advancement, research, discovery and awareness, leading to a more holistic approach to care delivery and improved health outcomes across U.S. communities.

In terms of improving access to care, one advancement in particular carries significant weight for expanding care options and lowering costs for patients, providers and communities: telepsychiatry. Telepsychiatry is a form of telemedicine that uses videoconferencing to provide psychiatric evaluation, consultation and treatment. A growing segment of telepsychiatry is direct-to-consumer care, which is working to tear down stigma-related barriers to treatment and open doors to expanded referral options and more timely care. In fact, industry stakeholders increasingly recognize direct-to-consumer telepsychiatry as a primary solution for filling mental health care gaps at a time when the need is soaring.

In tandem with the goals of value-based care, today’s patients and providers are no longer willing to settle for limited mental health treatment choices within their community. Similarly, communities should no longer view the long waits traditionally associated with accessing psychiatric care as acceptable, especially when telepsychiatry lays the foundation for more optimal, timely care delivery.

Recognizing the Need for Greater Access

Today’s mental health landscape is characterized by an increased need for services coupled with a dwindling supply of psychiatrists. The reality is that 42.5 million Americans struggle with mental health conditions including stress, depression, anxiety, relationship problems, grief, mood disorders and other psychological concerns. Unfortunately, accessing effective treatment is not easily attainable given the following statistics:

  • More than 55 percent of U.S. counties are currently without any psychiatrists.
  • The mental health landscape is facing shortages in more than 4,600 areas.

In addition, referrals to community-based psychiatrists often have an average 3-6 month wait time—a fact that is especially true for specialty psychiatrists, such as those who have expertise in complex child conditions. To put this need into perspective, the number of child and adolescent psychiatrists in New Jersey would need to triple to adequately support the need in that state alone.

Primary care doctors are often sought out as a resource for filling these service gaps created by growing demand. Yet, many may be uncomfortable prescribing medication for mental health disorders or lack specific expertise on psychotropic medications.

Consider the following scenario:

A 53-year-old female has a history of refractory depression and has tried numerous antidepressant options through her primary care doctor, who is at a loss as to the correct formula for the patient’s needs. The patient’s history reveals that she has had discrete hypomanic episodes, characterized by sudden displays of energy, productivity and noticeably more creativity. These 1-2 week episodes were followed by a decline back to her usual depression. Looking for a second opinion regarding her care, her primary care doctor referred the patient to a telepsychiatrist.

When the telepsychiatrist reviewed her symptoms he made the conclusion that the patient has type two bipolar disorder and needed an appropriate medication regiment.

Fortunately, in this example, the patient suffering from type two bipolar disorder accessed the needed psychiatry expertise in a timely manner by using direct-to-consumer telepsychiatry. After an accurate diagnosis and subsequent follow-up visits with the telepsychiatrist, the patient’s medications were further adjusted, resulting in effective management of the disorder and a satisfied patient.

The Telepsychiatry Advantage

Direct-to-consumer telepsychiatry introduces notable opportunities to improve access to care. Through live, interactive communication with a licensed psychiatrist in a private setting of the patient’s choice, this treatment model diminishes many of the existing challenges to reaching patients in need.

For instance, patients who live in remote areas where mental health services are lacking have access to psychiatry expertise within a few days rather than several weeks or months. Also, stigma becomes less of an issue as patients are able to experience more privacy, and care is more conveniently accessed in the home or a private location.

Appointment scheduling options outside of traditional office hours address the roadblocks of busy lifestyles that are often a deterrent to consistent follow-up and treatment. In tandem, mental health providers can see more patients with this increased flexibility. Direct-to-consumer telepsychiatry can also support greater continuity of care. For instance, some patient populations, like teens and college students, are more willing to continue treatment if a relationship is maintained with the same psychiatric provider during life transitions like moving to a new city for college.

Telepsychiatry is clinically proven to deliver high-quality care that meets the standard of traditional in-person care for diagnostic accuracy, treatment, effectiveness, quality of care and patient satisfaction. Along with the majority of medical associations, the American Psychiatric Association supports the use of telepsychiatry as long as it is used in the best interest of the patient and complies with medical ethics and federal privacy and security regulations. For these reasons, telepsychiatry is increasingly becoming reimbursable by a number of insurance plans.

Forward Looking

Going forward, the industry must embrace the promise of direct-to-consumer telepsychiatry as a critical strategic component to improving access to care. Telepsychiatry is a viable option and an alternative to traditional in-person care for mental health issues that has the potential to better serve communities and improve population health.

Original story published in HIT Leaders & News.

Telepsychiatry Helps Businesses Realize Better Outcomes For All

By Barry Doan, MSW

In today’s busy, on-demand world, more employers are offering online or telemedicine services to employees to give them the ability to speak with a psychiatrist or nurse practitioner remotely. Telemedicine is not only convenient for employees who don’t have to take time off work for an appointment, but also helps employers reduce the cost of hospitalizations. While two-thirds of employers currently offer employees access to telemedicine services, that number is expected to increase to 90 percent by 2018.

One popular form of telemedicine is telepsychiatry, a clinical model that uses videoconferencing to provide psychiatry and mental health services, such as evaluations, consultations and ongoing treatment. It allows employees to receive mental health care through live, interactive communication with a licensed provider in a private setting, whether that’s at work, at home or in a healthcare facility. Telepsychiatry is particularly useful given the severe shortage of psychiatrists, which limits access to critical care and results in long wait times.

Impact of mental illness on employers

Mental illness is the leading cause of disability, accounting for one-third of new disability claims in 2015. Depression is among the top workplace challenges for employee assistance programs, along with family crisis and stress. While most employers provide coverage for mental health care, benefits and services aimed at preventing or reducing depression are often underutilized by employees for a variety of reasons. For example, they may have difficulty finding an in-network psychiatry provider in their area, trouble making an appointment that fits around their work schedule or employees may feel stigmatized or embarrassed by their condition.

Untreated mental health issues are costly to employers. The total economic burden of major depression, for example, is estimated to be $210.5 billion per year — nearly half of which is attributed to the workplace, including missed work days and reduced output. Further cost implications can also be attributed to treating medical conditions that often coexist with depression. Employees who suffer depression frequently have other medical conditions that occur at the same time, including diabetes, asthma, COPD, heart disease, chronic pain and insomnia. Treating these coexisting problems can significantly drive up costs. For example, researchers found that for every dollar spent treating depression, $1.55 was spend on depression workplace costs, while $2.13 was spent on treating coexisting disorders.

Advantages of offering a telepsychiatry benefit to employees

Investing in the mental wellbeing of employees creates measurable returns. Research by the American Psychiatric Foundation found that after only three weeks of mental health treatment, the number of work-impaired employees with behavioral health conditions was reduced by half, and after a little more than four months of treatment, two-thirds were no longer work-impaired.

Telepsychiatry can help employers improve productivity and profitability. Here are five reason why:

  1. Convenient

Providing convenient access to psychiatric and mental health care via telepsychiatry can help reduce absenteeism, tardiness and anger issues by allowing employees access to easy and convenient treatments thus enabling more consistent work attendance. Online appointments allow busy professionals to easily access specialty behavioral health services in a private and comfortable setting. Employees can also schedule appointments outside of traditional weekday time slots, such as weekends or in the evening, which reduces travel time and time away from work. By providing enhanced access to care, employees are more likely to engage in services more proactively and routinely.

  1. Prompt

When behavioral health issues are left untreated, they tend to get progressively worse. With telepsychiatry, employees have prompt access to routine care that reduces the chance of the condition becoming urgent or emergent. In light of the dramatic shortage of mental health providers, resources are scarce, driving up wait times to be seen in person. Telepsychiatry meets employees where they are, offering them faster access to care. Accessing telepsychiatry through online platforms not only allows for real-time diagnosis and treatment, but also provides more opportunities for communication between the employee and their mental health provider between sessions.

  1. Increased well-being

Employees who suffer from behavioral health issues cost employers $44 billion per year in lost productivity, mostly in the form of presenteeism — when employees are physically but not mentally present or working at full capacity. Offering mental health care not only reduces employee stress but improves morale. One study found employees who completed just one session with a mental health provider experienced significant improvement in work performance. Employers reported increased productivity and substantial improvement in overall mental health.

  1. Private

Telepsychiatry protects employee privacy and confidentiality just as in-person care does. Moreover, many find that not being in the same room as the provider actually enhances feelings of safety for many. Accessing appointments online also eliminates the possibility of running into co-workers in waiting rooms and/or psychiatry providers’ offices, which can be uncomfortable and contribute to anxiety.

  1. Quality care

Telepsychiatry is has been clinically proven to deliver high quality care that meets the standard of traditional in-person care for diagnostic accuracy, treatment, effectiveness, quality of care and patient satisfaction. Telepsychiatry offers enhanced access to care, which improves an employee’s ability to use services proactively and routinely, and providers can diagnose and prescribe medicine in the same way an in-person psychiatrist can.

Through telepsychiatry, employees and employers can experience better outcomes across the board.

Barry Doan has more than 30 years of behavioral health industry experience and now works for Inpathy, a division of the leading national telepsychiatry service provider organization that delivers telepsychiatry directly to employees and other individuals online.

Original story published on BenefitsPro.com on 4/24/17.

InSight Executive Director Receives 2017 Industry Leader Award

The American Telemedicine Association recognizes Geoffrey Boyce as a proven leader in the advancement and advocacy of telemedicine.

g boyce headshot

Geoffrey Boyce- ATA Industry Partner Honoree 2017

MARLTON, NJ – Geoffrey Boyce, Executive Director of InSight Telepsychiatry, is the recipient of the American Telemedicine Association’s 2017 Industry Leader Award.

The Industry Leader Award is presented each year to an individual or company that has made significant contributions to the advancement of telemedicine a federal, state and international level.

“Geoffrey has worked extensively in the promotion of telemedicine in a number of arenas,” says Les Paschall, CEO of InSight’s sister company, CFG Health Network. “This award recognizes his many accomplishments and tireless work to champion telemedicine and transform access to health care.”

The American Telemedicine Association (ATA) is the largest telehealth-focused organization. The non-profit organization is the leading telehealth association helping to transform healthcare by improving the quality, equity and affordability of healthcare throughout the world.

InSight Telepsychiatry is the leading national telepsychiatry organization with a mission to increase access to quality behavioral health care through innovative applications of technology. InSight has been practicing telepsychiatry for the past 18 years and runs telepsychiatry programs in settings than span the continuum of care across 27 states.

As executive director of InSight, Boyce has been active in telemedicine advocacy, education and reform initiatives. At a federal level, Boyce is an active leader in advocating for telemedicine-friendly changes to the Ryan Haight Act. He’s met with the DEA about the issue, spoke on the issue at several events and helped lead an ATA committee that produced comments on the Act that would make it telemedicine-friendly.

At the state level, Boyce played a crucial role in drafting a proposed telemedicine bill in New Jersey, which introduced significant regulations for the efficient delivery of health care services through telemedicine. He was among experts to testify before the New Jersey state Senate Health, Human Services and Senior Citizens Committee on the current and potential applications of telemedicine services and has continued to be a resource to the policy makers throughout the process.

Boyce also played a key role in advocating for New Jersey’s change in commitment laws to allow for electronic signatures in 2012. The revision represented significant improvement to the logistical challenges faced when screening and placing individuals appropriately, particularly in the delivery of the psychiatrist’s screen certificate.

Boyce worked with the Delaware Telehealth Coalition and the Delaware Medical Society to draft legislation making telemedicine more accessible through Delaware’s House Bill 69. He also helped design several innovative telemedicine partnerships within the state, including a 2014 pilot with the DSCYF to bring child and adolescent psychiatry to southern Delaware.

Through his work at InSight, Boyce has developed and implemented a number of innovative telepsychiatry and telebehavioral health programs for hospitals, health systems, outpatient health facilities and various other healthcare organizations. He launched the Adult Mobile Crisis Program and Children’s Crisis Psychiatry Program, allowing trained crisis support specialists to bring laptops equipped to connect a telepsychiatrist to the homes of callers experiencing psychiatric crisis in Pennsylvania. He launched the first ACT program to utilize telepsychiatry in Delaware. He also played a key role in the design of Inpathy, one of the nation’s first direct-to-consumer telebehavioral health platforms, and is currently working to expand into new areas through partnerships with health plans and insurance companies.

Boyce is an active public speaker on telehealth through presentations, webinars and events. Boyce has spoken on the topic of telemedicine at over 25 events in the past 5 years including presentations on the topic of Telepsychiatry to the American Telemedicine Association, the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, the National Association of Rural Health Associations, The Center for Telehealth and e-Law and many others.

Boyce also serves on the board of the Mid-Atlantic Telehealth Resource Center.

“I’m humbled by this honor. I’ve been involved with ATA for close to ten years and seen the organization and the telemedicine industry come into its own,” says Boyce. “We are no longer spending time convincing people that telemedicine isn’t voodoo and are now seeing real change. Telehealth is at that tipping point.”

Boyce will be presented with his award during the Industry Council Meeting at the 2017 International American Telemedicine Association Conference in Orlando, FL on Sunday, April 23.

InSight Telepsychiatry to Present at the American Telemedicine Association Annual Conference

InSight Telepsychiatry representatives are presenting at the American Telemedicine Association’s Annual Conference and Trade Show in Orlando. Their presentations, will address innovative telebehavioral health programs in a variety of settings, drawing on InSight’s experience as the leading national telepsychiatry provider organization.

ORLANDO, FL – InSight Telepsychiatry, the leading national telepsychiatry provider organization with a mission to increase access to behavioral health care, today announced thought leaders from the company, along with CFG Health Network and InSight partner, Access Services, will give presentations on a variety of telepsychiatry topics during the American Telemedicine Association’s (ATA) Annual Conference and Trade Show, taking place in Orlando, FL from April 23 to 25. ATA is the industry’s leading event for insights into the latest telemedicine and mobile health trends.

On Monday, April 24, representatives from InSight, CFG and Access Services will present during the session called The Use of Consumer-Based Telemental Health for Acute and Long-Term Needs. This session will feature “Bringing Help Home: The Use of Telepsychiatry in a Mobile Crisis Program” presented by Dan Khebzou and Jessica Fenchel, and “Getting Ahead of the Curve: Layering Home-Based Telehealth into an Existing Outpatient Mental Health Clinic” presented by Joel Freidman, PhD, that discusses the use of Inpathy, InSight’s direct-to-consumer division.

Dan Khebzou, a regional account executive for InSight, and Jess Fenchel, the senior director for adult behavioral health and crisis at Access Services, will give details on the partnership that facilitated the nation’s first mobile crisis program to utilize telepsychiatry.

Access Services and InSight work together to connect individuals in crisis and crisis team members with a remote telepsychiatry provider who is able to rapidly meet the person where they are – all through telehealth. This case study will review the implementation steps the partners went through to develop and roll out a successful program including designing workflows, selecting providers, overcoming hurdles, informing payers, choosing their technology and educating their teams. In addition, they will discuss lessons learned.
In the second presentation, Joel Friedman, PhD., the clinical director of CFG Health Network, will give details on how Center for Family Guidance, an outpatient mental health organization with three offices, is utilizing Inpathy, in order to meet the increasing needs of consumers.

Additionally, InSight Executive Director Geoffrey Boyce will present the e-poster, “Do You Know Ryan Haight?” on April 23. This poster will break down the confusing elements of the Ryan Haight Act into digestible and applicable pieces.

Visit booth 1506 for more information and to connect with InSight. To schedule a time for a meeting, contact Olivia Boyce at oboyce@in-sight.net or 770.713.4161.

InSight Telepsychiatry is the leading national telepsychiatry service provider organization with a mission to increase access to quality behavioral health care through innovative applications of technology.

Telepsychiatry: Reaching More Patients For Better Outcomes

By Dr. Jim Varrell, Medical Director, InSight Telepsychiatry

(Originally Published 3/17/17 on Health IT Outcomes)

A 42-year-old woman with chronic anxiety and agoraphobia found herself unable to leave her apartment. She reached out to her primary care doctor who prescribed Xanax, but the medication was only making her feel worse. Unable to go out in public, she found a telepsychiatry provider who adjusted her medication and dosage, connected her with cognitive behavioral therapy, and helped her reclaim her life.

Health IT Outcomes Every year, about 42.5 million Americans struggle with mental illness — enduring stress, depression, anxiety, relationship problems, grief, mood disorders or other psychological concerns. Despite the availability of treatment most people don’t get the help they need, not necessarily due to stigma or denial, but because they can’t: it’s inconvenient or mental healthcare providers aren’t available in their area or within the time frame they need an appointment. To increase access to behavioral healthcare, people need an alternative to traditional doctor referrals, and telepsychiatry can help. Telepsychiatry is a type of telemedicine that uses videoconferencing to provide psychiatric evaluation, consultation, and treatment.

A Growing Market
A key driver of telepsychiatry is the serious shortage of psychiatry providers and other mental health professionals in the U.S. Today there are more than 4,600 mental health professional shortage areas making it difficult, if not impossible, for patients to access services. People referred to psychiatry providers by their primary care doctors face long and potentially dangerous wait times — often three to seven months or longer.

The situation is even worse for those in need of specialty providers, such as child and adolescent psychiatry providers. Currently, there are only about 8,200 practicing child and adolescent psychiatry providers nationally. To put this in perspective, New Jersey alone would need three times as many practitioners as it now has to adequately support the number of children in the state.

Telepsychiatry also offers the promise of delivering more effective mental healthcare in primary care practices. The burden of mental healthcare often falls on primary care doctors, yet many are unable to provide the most appropriate behavioral health resources. Adequately assessing and treating behavioral health issues requires more time with the patient than many doctors or nurse practitioners are able to spend. Moreover, while it is perfectly acceptable for primary care doctors to not know the ins and outs of mental healthcare, many don’t feel equipped to treat behavioral health conditions themselves because they lack specialized training. But without referral options, primary care doctors are often forced to do so. Many practices are overwhelmed with changes in how care is delivered and reimbursed, and under pressure to maximize time with patients, making it difficult for doctors to do it all.

Meeting Behavioral Healthcare Needs

Quality: Telepsychiatry is leading the way in telemedicine for delivering high quality care that meets the standard of traditional in-person care. The American Psychiatric Association supports the use of telepsychiatry as long as it is used in the best interest of the patient and complies with medical ethics and federal privacy and security regulations. It supports the patient-doctor relationship required by law to prescribe medications with documentation — a process identical to the traditional outpatient setting. For these reasons as well, it is increasingly reimbursable by insurance plans.

Continuity of care: In addition to meeting care standards, telepsychiatry positively impacts continuity of care by providing greater accessibility to psychiatry providers. It meets patients where they are. Many patient populations including children, college students, and veterans respond well to this form of treatment, especially since they can maintain the relationship with their same psychiatric provider regardless of location. Other studies have found telepsychiatry can positively impact care for seniors and nursing home residents, reducing costs for the facility as well as improving access to needed care. Age has not been found to be a barrier to acceptance and most seniors readily accept the format.

Access to care: Telepsychiatry is one of the most effective ways to increase access to care for individuals who might otherwise go without. Providing access to specialists for people in rural and remote areas is a challenge. Telepsychiatry offers a practical and cost-efficient way for psychiatry providers to reach these patients. The logistical benefits extend to those in urban centers as well. In light of the dramatic provider shortage, resources are scarce in all settings driving up wait times and commutes to be seen in-person. Telepsychiatry allows existing behavioral health providers to see more people at more flexible times. Many providers who offer telepsychiatry services do so during off-hours to meet the needs of consumers who have trouble finding time for commutes and waiting rooms, or who have trouble leaving their homes.

Cost-effective: Behavioral health issues cost $135 billion every year — almost as much as heart disease and cancer treatment combined. Telepsychiatry can help lower costs for both psychiatry providers and their patients. Studies have found telepsychiatry incurs fewer direct and indirect costs than in-person services saving on provider time, medical supplies, technology, and reimbursement, as well as costs associated with the clinical space, administrative support, travel, and time off work. Nowhere is this savings more pronounced than in the rural setting where telepsychiatry has been found to reduce costs by as much as 40 percent. For hospitals and inpatient residential programs required to provide patients with follow-up care options, telepsychiatry can help ensure a seamless care transition with proactive post-discharge outreach, reducing potential penalties for providers under value-based care.

A Solution For Better Outcomes
Telepsychiatry meets patients’ needs for convenient, flexible, and accessible mental health services, helping improve patient outcomes. The convenience of online appointments makes patients more likely to attend their behavioral health sessions than if they were seeing a provider in person — and when people are consistent in managing their behavioral health, their physical health also improves. It also gives patients more options to find the right provider for them and the care that meets their specific needs, and allows typically underserved groups to access care. This combined with less travel time, less time off work and shorter wait times for services means people get the care they need sooner, are more engaged in their health and happier with their experience of care.

About The Author
James R. Varrell, M.D. has been practicing telepsychiatry for 18 years and is the Medical Director of InSight Telepsychiatry.

InSight’s Dr. Mark Alter Airs on Wharton Business Radio as Guest Speaker

Mark AlterPhilidelphia, PA— Mark Alter, Associate Medical Director of On-Demand Services at InSight Telepsychiatry, recently appeared as a guest speaker on “The Business of Health Care” to talk about telemedicine on Business Radio Powered by The Wharton School.

The show, which originally aired on Sirius XM Channel 111, featured Dr. Alter along with fellow guests Jules Lipoff, Assistant Professor of Dermatology at the University of Pennsylvania, and George Bodenger, Health Care Law Attorney at George W. Bodenger, LLC. The show covered the rapidly growing size and potential of the telemedicine market and also explained how the various models of telemedicine work across specialties. Dr. Alter talked about the importance and opportunities of providing telemedicine and telepsychiatry, including increased access to care under current and new health care policies.

Listen to the show here.

InSight Telepsychiatry Presents at American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry Annual Meeting

October 28, 2016 │ InSight Telepsychiatry was proud to present on the legal, regulatory and financial realities of telepsychiatry at the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry’s 63rd Annual Meeting.

New York, NY – InSight Telepsychiatry’s Executive Director, Geoffrey Boyce, and Medical Director, Dr. Jim Varrell, presented at the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry’s (AACAP) 63rd Annual Meeting held in New York City. The AACAP annual meetings are a gathering place for leaders in the field of child and adolescent psychiatry, children’s mental health and other allied disciplines.

Boyce and Dr. Varrell’s presentation, entitled Legal, Regulatory and Financial Realities of Telepsychiatry, was delivered during the “Road Map to Establish and Sustain a Telepsychiatry Practice” clinical breakout session organized by Dr. Kathleen Myers and attended by over 100 child and adolescent psychiatrists. Their presentation covered topics including models of telepsychiatry, reimbursement, licensure, the provider-patient relationship and emergency protocol. Other presentations during this breakout session included Media Training to Develop and Authentic Patient-Doctor Relationship presented by Dr. David E. Roth and Competencies in Telepsychiatry: Residency Training and Maintenance of Skills presented by Dr. Daniel A. Alicata.

Additionally, Dr. Varrell presented on the entrepreneurial side of telepsychiatry during the breakout’s TED-talk style session. He discussed being a thought leader in telepsychiatry and telepsychiatry best practices. Dr. Varrell has been providing telepsychiatry services since 1999 and is one of the founding members of InSight Telepsychiatry, the national leading telepsychiatry service provider.

Boyce and Dr. Varrell also took part in the breakout session’s ‘Genius Bar.’ They hosted a “Careers in Telepsychiatry: Choose Your Own Adventure” station where attendees were encouraged to ask them questions about what a career in telepsychiatry looks like. Telepsychiatry provides a unique opportunity for psychiatric providers because it allows them to work from home, extending their hours to nights and weekends.

Geoffrey Boyce is the Executive Director of InSight Telepsychiatry and an active participant in telemedicine advocacy, education and reform initiatives.

Jim Varrell, MD is the President and Medical Director of the CFG Health Network and InSight Telepsychiatry who has been at the forefront of telepsychiatry across the nation and continues to educate the medical community regarding the benefits of telepsychiatry.

InSight Telepsychiatry is the national leading telepsychiatry provider organization with a mission to increase access to behavioral health care.

New Psychiatric Practice in New York Allows Individuals to Get Their Mental Wellness On(line)

Telebehavioral health allows individuals to attend sessions with behavioral and mental health providers online through secure videoconferencing. Inpathy is a division of InSight Telepsychiatry, the largest telebehavioral health organization in the nation.

Inpathy providers include adult and child and adolescent psychiatrists and psychiatric nurse practitioners that are available for psychiatric assessments, medication management and prescriptions when appropriate. Therapists and counselors are also available for talk therapy sessions through telehealth.

Many of the Inpathy telebehavioral health providers offer night and weekend appointments, which can be accessed through the internet from home using a smartphone, tablet or a computer with a webcamera. This makes managing behavioral health care more convenient by eliminating the need to travel to in-person appointments and sit in waiting rooms. Another benefit of telebehavioral health is that it is a more private way to access behavioral health services, which makes it a good option for individuals who are worried about a stigma on behavioral or mental health care.

Just like in an in-person office, the telebehavioral health providers who deliver services through Inpathy are fully supported by a clinical and administrative staff that handles their scheduling, billing, intake, general operations and clinical oversight.
Inpathy accepts insurance from several major insurance companies, including Aetna. For in-network telebehavioral health sessions, individuals are only charged their co-pay just like they would be for an in-person session. Inpathy providers are also available for out-of-network and cash-pay appointments.

“There is a huge shortage of psychiatrists across the nation,” says Geoffrey Boyce, executive director at InSight. “Telepsychiatry and telebehavioral health offer a unique solution for making psychiatry appointments easier to book and attend.”

Inpathy has telebehavioral health appointments available with many New York-licensed providers, including the following:

  • Doug Ikelheimer, MD- an extremely experienced telepsychiatrist with expertise in the psychopharmacologic management of mood disorders, anxiety disorders, chronic mental illness and addictions
  • Catherine Newton, LCSW – a licesnsed clinical social worker who specializes in working with individuals who have experienced trauma and is trained in Eye Movement Desensitiazation and Reprocessing (EMDR)
  • Ragy Girgis, MD – a board certified psychiatrist with an interest in the psychopharmalcologic management of schizophrenia, mood disorders, anxiety disorders and eating disorders in adults
  • Hinna Shah, MD – a board certified adult and child and adolescent psychiatrist with experience working with individuals who have depression, bipolar disorder, anxiety disorders, autism spectrum disorder and ADHD
  • Liz Espinoza, LCSW – a Spanish-speaking licensed clinical social worker who is interested in helping individuals achieve life goals and specializes in anger management, relationship, communication and life transition issues

Telehealth is a rapidly growing industry and more and more insurance companies and providers are offering this form of care. Numerous studies have shown telebehavioral health to be as effective as in-person behavioral health services in most situations.

To get started as an individual using telebehavioral health care, individuals can visit http://www.inpathy.com to search the Inpathy provider directory, sign up, select an appropriate provider and schedule a session. Inpathy has a 24-hour technical support line and care navigation team that can be reached at 1.800.442.8938.

InSight is also in the process of developing referral relationships with a number of New York organizations that could benefit from additional behavioral health services for their clients. To learn more about this or connect individuals you know to care, visit http://www.inpathy.com.

Cathy Newton

Telepsychiatry Leader Applauds FSMB’s Newly Enacted Interstate Medical Licensure Compact

May 19, 2015 | The Federal State Medical Board’s Interstate Medical Licensure Compact Commission was enacted, after Alabama became the seventh state to officially adopt it. The licensure compact will allow a streamlined process for qualified physicians to obtain additional medical licensure in participating Compact states.

With Alabama’s participation, the compact has reached the required number of states for it to go into effect. Alabama joined Idaho, Montana, South Dakota, Utah, West Virginia and Wyoming as states that officially enacted the compact. Nearly 20 states have introduced the compact to their state legislature.

I applaud these states for their participation in this important step towards the future of healthcare.

Telemedicine is a growing industry that provides a space for providers to effectively treat health care consumers in any location. However, the idea of “healthcare anywhere” is significantly challenged by physician licensure requirements that were often established before the idea of practicing across state lines was viable. As telemedicine transforms access to care and providers increasingly seek licensure in multiple states, certain components of current medical licensure requirements have become unnecessarily redundant, time-consuming, and restrictive.

The Compact creates a more streamlined licensing process and increases licensure portability across state-lines for physicians. It will ease the physician shortage in rural and underserved areas and help to bring care to those who struggled to access it previously.

As a company that has built telepsychiatry programs in 24 states, our team is intimately aware of the headaches of getting physicians licensed in multiple states in order to provide telehealth care. The existing process for a physician to obtain a license in another state can take several months to a year. Licensure in multiple states is arduous, expensive and often unnecessarily repetitive since each state asks for nearly the same information.

The Interstate Licensure Compact system opens up new possibilities for state licensing boards to share information and collaborate with one another to reduce redundancy and streamline complicated processes around uniform standards. Ultimately, the licensure process is expected to be quicker and easier.

The Compact will join the ranks of similar professional regulations that facilitate interstate health care like the Nurses Licensure Compact (NLC) which launched in 2000. Other healthcare professions are also following suit and exploring their own licensure compact structures.

As with any new system, there are questions about how the Compact might affect standards for quality care, existing laws and budgets. An Interstate Compact Commission will meet later this year to discuss the specifics of management and administration of the newly enacted Compact, but many important points have already been established.

First, since telemedicine must always be practiced appropriately and within the standards of licensing boards, the Compact maintains the existing authority of all participating state’s licensing boards. Additionally, the Medical Practice Act, which outlines the laws and regulations governing the practice of medicine within state boundaries, is maintained under the new Compact. Lastly, in regards to funding questions, states will still receive the licensing fees associated with physicians applying for and maintaining licensure. There will be no increase in state spending with the Compact.

I praise the FSMB for taking the time to craft, release and advocate for a well-thought out compact and thank them for actively acknowledging the direction that medicine is going.

I call on every state to consider the significant possibilities posed by telemedicine and FSMB’s Interstate Medical Licensure Compact and look forward to more states joining the ranks of those who have enacted or proposed the Compact thus far. The true power of this Compact is large scale collaboration.

Geoffrey Boyce

geoffreyboyceGeoffrey Boyce is the Executive Director of the CFG Health Network’s InSight Telepsychiatry. Since 2008, Boyce has advocated for the appropriate use and value of telepsychiatry and has developed unique telemedicine programs within areas of greatest need. Boyce is an active participant in telemedicine advocacy, education and reform initiatives, regularly interacting with state and local healthcare regulators and administrators. Boyce frequently speaks about the potential of telemedicine and the best practices for establishing new programs. Boyce holds an MBA from Terry College of Business at UGA with a focus on entrepreneurship and business planning.

Follow InSight Telepsychiatry on LinkedIn

Telepsychiatry Can Help Increase Access to Psychiatric Care in Rural Illinois


February 11, 2015 | Jim Varrell, MD 

See this article on The InSight Bulletin.

Illinois, like many other states across the country, struggles to serve the psychiatric needs of its citizens because of a huge shortage of psychiatric prescribers, particularly in rural and underserved areas.

In addressing this issue, I challenge Illinois to consider innovative solutions like telemedicine to alleviate some of the problems associated low psychiatric capacity in rural area.

Telepsychiatry, or psychiatric care provided through real-time videoconferencing, is a widely used medium for bringing psychiatric care into locations with limited access to mental health professionals. It allows for a psychiatrist or other mental health professional to see, evaluate, diagnose and treat patients without having to be in the same physical space.

Telepsychiatry is an application of telemedicine, a rapidly growing industry that incorporates technology into healthcare delivery to enable remote assessment and treatment. Scores of clinical research have shown the effectiveness of telepsychiatry in nearly all settings and populations.

Telepsychiatry is a way to increase access to Illinois-licensed providers who may live across the country. It is also a way to better leverage the time of existing Illinois-based psychiatric prescribers who could seamlessly transition between appointments at different facilities without having to physically travel, as many of them now do.

Telepsychiatry providers could be used in several ways in Illinois:

  • In hospital emergency departments: By incorporating 24-hour on-demand telepsychiatry programs, hospitals could have timely access to psychiatric providers for commitment and treatment decisions. Experienced psychiatric nurse practitioners and psychiatrists consistently assess risk with a high degree of certainty and therefore can significantly reduce unnecessary admissions, which frees up beds for those who need them and sends home those who don’t. While telepsychiatry is not able to create hospital beds, it is an advantageous way to bring psychiatric care where it is not readily available.
  • In inpatient units or psychiatric hospitals: Illinois could use telepsychiatry within inpatient units or the two state psychiatric hospitals to increase their psychiatric capacity and more quickly and appropriately treat mentally ill patients.
  • In community-based facilities: Other settings can benefit from improved access to psychiatric providers including correctional facilities, outpatient facilities, schools, primary care offices, urgent care centers and FQHCs. By increasing the psychiatric capacity of community-based programs it is less likely for a person to reach psychiatric crisis that requires hospitalization.

I urge Illinois to consider this medium of care as they work to improve their psychiatric services in rural areas.

See this article on The InSight Bulletin.

Telepsychiatry: The New Frontier in Mental Health

January 15, 2015 | By Kristen Crane
View this story on U.S. News and World Report.
How technology is helping ‘bring’ psychiatrists to people in underserved areas.

When Hind Benjelloun, a District of Columbia–based crisis psychiatrist with InSight Telepsychiatry, works an overnight shift, there’s never a dull moment. Even when the emergency room empties out, Benjelloun still has patients waiting for her on her computer screen. Whether they’re from the inner city or rural Virginia, they have to be seen remotely, and advances in technology have made it possible for them to get the help they need at all hours of the day.Picture4

Like telemedicine, telepsychiatry relies on technology to bring clinical medicine to patients, rather than the other way around. Patients typically videoconference with doctors using computers or videoconferencing equipment. Telepsychiatric services are growing, and the advantage is that such technology opens access to care, particularly for those in remote areas where there are fewer psychiatrists.

The disadvantage, Benjelloun says, is that the human touch is missing. “A caring touch or handing a patient a tissue can never be possible,” she says, adding that this can also lead to missed cues on her part. “I am unable to clearly see self-inflicted wounds or tears.”

But many experts agree that despite the challenges of delivering care remotely, the advantages of telepsychiatry far outweigh the disadvantages.

South Carolina Transforms Psychiatric Care

In South Carolina, a steady decline of hospital beds for psychiatric patients in the 1980s and ‘90s due to downsizing at hospitals led to waiting lists in the early 2000s, says Mark Binkley, general counsel at the South Carolina Department of Mental Health.

This hit the community hospitals particularly hard. “When somebody needs a hospital bed, they usually wind up in a hospital emergency room,” Binkley says. And if you don’t have a psychiatrist on staff, he adds, “the tendency for the small ER was to hold onto the patient.” This led to prolonged hospital stays, which became a drain on already strapped hospital budgets.

In 2006, the state’s new health director, John McGill, proposed a solution: technology. With funding from The Duke Endowment, one of the nation’s largest private foundations, he was able to “deploy” psychiatrists to people living in underserved, rural areas via the Internet. This enabled psychiatrists, many of whom were (and still are) clustered in the state’s capital, Charleston, to consult with patients in real-time, irrespective of location, Binkley adds.

The results of this pilot study have been promising. Since the program started in March of 2009, there have been 21,900 total consultations, an average of about 400 per month. While only available to those admitted to emergency departments, patients at participating hospitals have experienced shorter stays, yielding $1,400 in savings per episode of care, Binkley says. Furthermore, patients who came through the program are 200 percent more likely to show up for aftercare, he adds.

Telemedicine vs. Telepsychiatry

Although telepsychiatry has developed on the heels of telemedicine, which uses technology to do things such as take patients’ vital signs and send the results remotely, studies have shown that telepsychiatry might actually benefit psychiatric patients more. That’s because their propensity to use the ER may be greater, Binkley says, so helping them avoid that visit through remote care is particularly advantageous.

Also, psychiatric patients may be more willing to open up from the comfort of their home. “Very rarely do patients have a problem talking to a psychiatrist on a big video screen,” Binkley says.

Jim Varrell, a New Jersey–based psychiatrist and medical director of Insight Telepsychiatry, which provides telepsychiatry services to clinics and private users of telepsychiatry services, adds that patients with behavioral problems are more often compliant with remote consultations. “They do better in response to this service, as opposed to being in a room with one to two adults who are pointing out what’s wrong with them,” Varrell says. “They open up more through this medium.”

The profile of patients using telepsychiatry is wide-ranging and includes everyone from children to geriatric patients; English to foreign-language speakers; and people experiencing mild depression to those in the midst of a psychotic episode. “Ultimately people are absolutely able to do it,” Varrell says. “We haven’t had any group unable to do it.”

Sound quality can be more important than picture quality, he adds, especially in older patients with hearing problems. And while the major disadvantage of remote services is the absence of personal contact, which limits a psychiatrist’s ability to use all senses when evaluating the patient, the equipment (a computer and video camera) has a number of features that can help offset that limitation. For example, it can allow the camera to zoom in on the face to visualize the dilation of eyeballs and any tics, Binkley says. There are extensive security protocols for protecting patient privacy as well, Varrell adds.

Expanding Across the Country

While South Carolina is a leader in the nation’s adoption of telepsychiatry, thousands of programs have been launched in all 50 states, says Geoffrey Boyce, executive director of InSight Telepsychiatry. More than 1 million consultations are estimated to occur in the United States this year, he adds – many of which will be in underserved populations that extend beyond just rural pockets. “When you’re talking about the weekends and after hours, that’s where it can make a lot of sense in the urban areas,” he says.

“In a more rural area, nobody has access [to psychiatric care],” he says. Telepsychiatry is “enormously more affordable at that point,” Boyce says, since people who otherwise might have had to take a whole day off work to travel to see a doctor can now be seen in the comfort of their community hospital or home.

So far, California, Texas and Colorado have been the biggest adopters of telepsychiatry, apart from South Carolina. Regulatory and insurance reimbursement issues have held other states back from wide adoption of these services, Boyce says.

Many psychiatrists have begun to embrace the concept of serving patients remotely, Varrell says.

Several, like Benjelloun, find it gratifying to reach patients who were once out of reach. “[Telepsychiatry] allows for patients to be examined by a psychiatrist within an hour, as opposed to waiting for days in an emergency room,” she says.

View this story on U.S. News and World Report.

St. Anthony Hospital Expands Its Telemedicine Program With Telepsychiatry

June 19, 2014 | St. Anthony Hospital’s newly launched telepsychiatry program provides eight rural Oklahoma hospitals with needed access to a child and adolescent psychiatrist and aims to improve psychiatric services across the state. St. Anthony’s telepsychiatry program is an expansion of their existing telemedicine program, the largest in the state, which has been used for radiology, cardiology, endocrinology, and dermatology for the past 4 years.

Mobile Crisis Telepsychiatry Program Enhances Consumer Care

February 20, 2014 | Access Services of the Southeastern Pennsylvania region has launched a new program to enhance their existing crisis management services that connects consumers in psychiatric crisis to behavioral health providers through videoconferencing technology in their home. This mobile crisis telepsychiatry program aims to effectively utilize resources within Montgomery County, and is one of the nation’s first models of remote crisis behavioral health care.

Kent Sussex Counseling Services Utilizes Telemedicine to Enhance Patient Treatment and Streamline Psychiatric Appointments

July 26, 2012 | Delaware, like many other states, suffers from a shortage of psychiatric professionals, particularly those specializing in addictions. Recognizing this strain on organizational operations, Kent Sussex Counseling Services turned to telepsychiatry in order to improve patients’ access and experience with addiction-specific psychiatric care. Patients and providers quickly adapted to telepsychiatry and now enjoy seeing telepsychiatrist, Dr. Christina Vaglica on screen.