Tele-psychiatry 101: What is it like to see a psychiatrist by video?

Covid-19 has closed many businesses, including the medical offices of most psychiatrists. The good news is that secure video platforms allow you to meet with a psychiatrist, face to face and nearly like you are meeting with them in the office.

I am a psychiatrist who specializes in general and addiction psychiatry. My office is located in Santa Monica, California but it has been closed since mid-March 2020, due to Covid-19. Being licensed in California, I am able to see patients from all over the state. I also have an Alaska medical license and see patients from all over Alaska.

In my opinion, it is always better and more effective to see a psychiatrist in the office if possible. However, during the pandemic, the risks of coming to the office, waiting in a waiting room, and sitting in a small room with a psychiatrist outweigh the benefits. Therefore, I strongly encourage my current patients and my prospective patients to consider tele-psychiatry during this time of social distancing.

Tele-psychiatry allows me to provide patients the same quality of care, depth and quality of my assessment and the same types of treatment that I normally provide in the office. The initial assessment is still one hour long and is a comprehensive psychiatric evaluation. The video platform is secure and very easy to access. It allows the patient and I to connect much more effectively than via telephone. At the first appointment, we discuss what has brought the patient in for help and we discuss the past to bring me up to speed. The goals of the initial assessment include making a diagnosis, discussing both non-medication and medication treatment options and other recommendations to help the patient reach their goals.

The follow up appointments are 30 minutes and the focus is generally on medication management. The video platform allows me to provide my patient with psychoeducation and supportive psychotherapy. When a patient would benefit from more frequent and more in-depth psychotherapy, I generally refer the patient to a specialist in the area that they can work with and I can collaborate with to give them high-quality, individualized and coordinated care.

In order to provide my patients with the highest quality of care have invested in secure video technology platforms, secure electronic medication prescribing and provide digital referrals to local labs to get bloodwork completed. This allows seemless and secure treatment. I also provide referrals to therapists and higher levels of care that often can also provide remote care. After the social distancing of Covid-19 ends, my patients will have the option to continue to meet remotely by video or return to the office.

If a family member or friend was looking for psychiatric care during this time of Covid-19 I would certainly recommend seeing a psychiatrist via video. This is a really difficult time to stay connected and to reach out for help. Due to social distancing, we are all more isolated than normal, distanced from our family and friends and often unable to access and utilize our normal coping strategies. Therefore, talking about anxiety, depression, sleep issues or substance abuse with an addiction psychiatrist can be an important step to get things back on track and video allows a patient to get help without putting themselves at risk of getting sick by coming to the office.

If you are interested in setting up a 10 minute free phone consultation to discuss becoming a new patient and if my practice is the right fit for your needs you can use this link to set up a time: https://calendly.com/docgoldenberg/phoneconsult

I am currently accepting new patients from all over California including Santa Monica, Los Angeles, Pacific Palisades, Malibu, Venice, Hollywood, Encino, Woodland Hills, Calabasas, Sherman Oaks, Studio City and Downtown LA. I also see patients from Northern California from San Jose, Los Gatos, Palo Alto, San Francisco, Marin, Oakland, Berkeley and other cities. Telepsychiatry can be a great option if you are in a rural part of California or simply want to increase your options if there are few psychiatrists in your area.

Telemedicine, telepsychiatry, telehealth, online psychiatrist, video psychiatry and other terms are all different terms for essentially the same thing; a psychiatrist/mental health specialist that you can see remotely by video.

Feel free to reach out if I can be of help.

Be well and stay safe!

 

Best,

Dr. Goldenberg

Author
Matthew Goldenberg, D.O. Matthew Goldenberg D.O. is double Board Certified in Psychiatry and Addiction Psychiatry and is a certified Medical Review Officer (MRO). He is an expert in the evaluation and treatment of mental health disorders and is an addiction specialist for adults in his private practice in Santa Monica, California. Dr. Goldenberg also provides addiction psychiatry consultations to some of the nation’s top residential and outpatient treatment programs in the Los Angeles area and is experienced in the evaluation and treatment of professionals working in safety-sensitive positions. In addition to his clinical work, Dr. Goldenberg is an active author, researcher and invited speaker at local and national conferences. He also volunteers his time as a Clinical Instructor in the Department of Psychiatry at UCLA and is an Assistant Professor of Psychiatry at Cedars Sinai Medical Center.

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