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Technology in Alcohol and Drug Treatment: Telemedicine

by James Heller 22. October 2009 08:41
Mental health treatment and alcohol and drug treatment can be difficult to access for many people.  For several reasons, they are not able to make regular trips, if at all, to a mental health professional or treatment facility.  But as technology improves in healthcare, like with telemental health, so do the chances that these individuals will receive the treatment they need.

For those who live in rural and so-called frontier areas typically need to travel a long distance in order to receive treatment.  Those with physical disabilities might live close to an office or alcohol and drug treatment location, but have mobility issues and can’t always get there.  The problem of visiting an office or facility even affects those with social phobias who fear leaving their home.

Many individuals with substance abuse or mental health disorders that fit the descriptions above would like to receive treatment, but are hindered or blocked by these life circumstances.  These are only a few examples of people who need an answer to this problem.  But technology has an answer.

Telemental Health is a not-so-new way to treat mental health patients that is rapidly increasing in use, and showing promise in alcohol and drug treatment.  This use of technology falls under the category of programs using telemedicine or telehealth.  And while the name may bring to mind a radio call-in show, it is actually a whole range of services that mean convenience to patients, physicians, mental health and behavioral health professionals, and technicians.

Patients who cannot access treatment in person, and even those who can, get an added benefit from telemental health.  Sessions can be saved and reviewed again after they were completed.  And while progress notes are very helpful to behavioral and mental health professionals, it stands to reason that reviewing a video of the last session will remind them of visual ques.  This means better treatment for patients.

Professionals treating with telemedicine have the benefit of auto-recording of many tedious records and sessions.  Beyond that they can attend continuing education online, as well as seminars and meetings.  Psychiatrists and Medical Doctors can also track patients’ medications, and even control in-home units that deliver medication to bedridden patients.

Telemedicine is especially valuable to those who require regular testing and monitoring.  In-home devices run tests and upload information to lab technicians and doctors.  So instead of running around to different labs all day, as can be the norm for some, most tests can be run without leaving the front door.

HalthcareITNews.com reported on a new telehealth partnership between Google and MDLiveCare.  The portion of the article below expands on patient benefits in telemedicine.  In time, this may be a solution for patients who have trouble attending alcohol and drug treatment programs.

-- Begin external content --

"Patients remember less than 25 percent of what they're told when they consult with a doctor," said Bob Smoley, the CEO of MDLiveCare. "By directly synchronizing the information that's shared during telehealth consultations with electronic patient health records, we're able to provide patients with a convenient solution to review their physician or therapist encounters, time and time again, which significantly increases patient awareness and treatment compliance. This integration allows us to further empower patients with better access to all of their health information and to provide a service unprecedented in medicine today."

-- Source: http://www.healthcareitnews.com/news/google-health-adds-telehealth-services-mix --

Tarzana Treatment Centers in Los Angeles provides residential and outpatient alcohol and drug treatment, and uses the latest technology in all of our services as part of our commitment to integrated behavioral healthcare.  If you or a loved one needs help for alcohol dependence or drug addiction, please call us now at 888-777-8565 or contact us here.

Southern California Locations for Alcohol and Drug Treatment
Tarzana Treatment Centers has locations all over Southern California in Los Angeles County. Other than our central location in Tarzana, we have facilities in Lancaster in the Antelope Valley, Long Beach, and in Northridge and Reseda in the San Fernando Valley.