One year ago, I started a new role as Executive Vice President, Business Development with Aligned Telehealth. Like most folks with multi-site experience, I thought I had a pretty good handle on telepsychiatry. Of course, being “involved” in telepsychiatry is far different from being “committed,” and over this past year, I have not only learned a great deal more about the field than I knew a year ago, I’ve discovered there are a surprising number of myths and “market-based urban legends” that affect our ability to spread care.
On a very basic level, telepsychiatry (and telehealth in general) has the capacity to enable a doctor to provide care anytime and anywhere. But this model eliminates only the conveyance or locational challenges of providing care (I need the care, I don’t have a doctor here to deliver it.)
What it doesn’t address is the simple fact that even if every psychiatrist in America today provided care at 100% efficiency, there aren’t enough of them to meet demand. The number of psychiatrists is dropping in relation to demand, and if you’re not already using telepsychiatry, you’d better begin evaluating when you’ll start.
As a business development executive who isn’t afraid of saying “sales,” I spend my days, selling telepsychiatry services. Sales people, as a species, can take the blame for creating a fair amount of myths about products and services. But we’re also on the front lines each day attempting to align what the market “thinks” it wants (largely based on those myths) and what a company (and often other companies) can actually deliver.
For our first Getting Aligned blog, we deconstruct common misconceptions surrounding telepsychiatry. Following is our first post:
Telepsychiatry Companies Have Lots of Doctors; These Doctors are Available Right Now: This is one of my favorites and I blame the locum tenens providers for spreading this one! We don’t. Nobody Does! If a company tells you it has a psychiatrist available for tele psych right now, ask one simple question. “If that doctor is available right now, then what are they doing . . . right now?”
Every psychiatrist is in very high demand; they can all easily work 24/7/365 if only they could avoid sleeping. So, when one of my fellow sales colleagues asserts that their company has “bandwidth,” and can readily assign psychiatrists, ask them to put the available doctor on the phone for a chat. Since they’re just sitting there waiting for a call, they’re likely lonely and bored and would welcome a consult!
–Miles D. Kramer, LCSW, CCHP