Telepsychiatry in Texas
Why is telepsychiatry a good solution for improving Texas’ behavioral health services?
Texas, like many other states across the country, suffers from a shortage of psychiatric prescribers. US News reports that there is only 1 psychiatrist for every 10,555 Texas residents.
Telepsychiatry is an effective medium of care that increases access to Texas-licensed providers and specialists who may live in other parts of the country, as well as to providers who are spread out throughout the state. Telepsychiatry is also a way to better leverage the time of existing Texas-based psychiatric prescribers who could seamlessly transition between appointments at different sites without having to physically travel.
Telepsychiatry is especially useful in rural areas. With telepsychiatry, facilities that offer behavioral health services can provide onsite psychiatric care to consumers in need using remote providers. Routine telepsychiatry reduces travel times, reduces costs, and increases the care capacity of facilities.
In hospitals, telepsychiatry can be an important way of reducing ED crowding and boarding, which according to the ACEP is a major concern. Currently, Texas only has 27.1 psychiatric beds per every 100,000 people. Using telepsychiatry would reduce inappropriate admissions, reduce risks, save costs and improve ED throughput.
Where is telepsychiatry being used in Texas?
Texas has already adopted some forms of telemedicine, and Texas law currently mandates both private and Medicaid coverage and reimbursement of telemedicine services including psychiatric diagnostic interviews and consultations. Telehealth services are currently limited to physical services in rural or under-served areas, though out-of-state physicians may receive telemedicine licenses through the interstate Nurse Licensure Compact. The University of Texas Medical Branch Electric Health Network and the Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center both feature telemedicine centers offering research and telehealth services to under-served communities and state correctional centers. 
For information on the most up-to-date reimbursement guidelines for private payers and Medicaid visit the Center for Telehealth and e-Health Law (CTeL). Medicare will reimburse for telepsychiatry services when a community is considered rural.
Am I Rural? Use the Rural Assistance Center’s “Am I Rural?” tool to determine the status of your community.
Where else can telepsychiatry be used in Texas?
Telepsychiatry can be used to augment the care capacity of most facilities that offer behavioral health services including:
-Mobile Crisis Units
-Primary Care Facilities
What types of providers are available through telepsychiatry?
-Psychiatric Nurse Practitioners
-Child and Adolescent Psychiatrists
-Substance Use Specialists
-Integrative Psychiatry Specialists