Dr Balaga on how Clinical Psychology Telemedicine Changed her Workflow and Practice

I’m a licensed Clinical Psychologist, providing both traditional therapy and holistic health psychology, which integrates meditation, yoga and health education into the treatment of adults, couples, children and families.

I’ve been working with patients since 1999 and incorporated telemedicine into my practice when my patients asked me to continue treating them when I relocated from NY to FL. I was excited to find Doxy.me as I was looking for a HIPAA compliant portal that was reasonably priced and dependable. Once insurance companies began reimbursing telemedicine services, I knew that this service would remain a vital part of my practice.

Integrating telemedicine into my work week has had a profound effect on my quality of life. I’ve typically had more than one office location and so my work day would involve much travel time. Telemedicine allows me to allocate parts of my week to working from my home office which allows me to slow down the pace of my day, add self-nourishing activities to those days and as a result maintain a healthy lifestyle without burning out by the end of the week.

My patients love telemedicine. They are often surprised at how easy it is to use and enjoy the flexibility of maintaining their continuity of care no matter where they are in the world. It certainly enables me to provide more consistent care than office visits alone. Since I’m licensed in NY, FL and VT, I’m able to offer treatment to far more patients than ever before.

An unexpected effect has been how familiar you become with your patients’ pets who often find their way to the computer screen, whether they’re sitting behind them with their tail wagging, assertively standing directly in front of them as they’re speaking, or taking a leisurely stroll across the keyboard during the session. Some comic relief during emotionally charged and often painful exploration is a good thing. Children also make their presence known. You are given invaluable information about your patients and how they interact with their loved ones. You are being invited into their homes, into their lives, to a greater degree than during office visits. This has been a most interesting finding since I was initially concerned that telemedicine might lack the intimacy of sessions held in the office.

The most difficult thing about telemedicine is how reliant you are on your network connection and that of your patients. It’s imperative that you have a back-up in case your connection fails or becomes too slow to maintain a fluid conversation. Using my hotspot during those rare moments has been instrumental to my telemedicine practice. Agreeing with your patients to complete sessions via phone is also an alternative when their network is compromised in some way. Lastly, requesting that your patient close all other programs and restart their computer right before a session is also helpful for maintaining as strong a network connection as possible.

Telemedicine may be a convenient and effective way to enhance your practice, but most importantly, it’s what patients are asking for more and more. Panic and agoraphobia, debilitating trauma symptoms and immobilizing physical ailments are just a few commonly reported diagnoses reported by patients who reach out. We need to provide quality care while addressing the needs of those individuals who are reaching out to us. Providing telemedicine keeps me connected to the pulse of society and makes me an active participant in its evolution. We are no longer limited by location and that’s very exciting.

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Courtney Larson

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