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APA and ATA issue guide for mental health providers

The APA and the American Telemedicine Association (ATA) this week released “Best Practices in Videoconferencing-Based Telemental Health,” a guide for mental health providers who want to begin using interactive videoconferencing to offer services to their patients.

The guide was written by a group of members from APA’s Committee on Telepsychiatry and the ATA’s Telemental Health Specialist Interest Group. The document is a consolidated update of previously published APA and ATA resources in telemental health and provides an overview of the use of clinical videoconferencing as a treatment medium.

This guide is the latest telepsychiatry resource to join APA’s ever-expanding Telepsychiatry Toolkit. The guide broadly considers three essential components of videoconferencing-based telemental health practice:

  • Administrative considerations, including information on program development, legal and regulatory issues (including information on licensure and prescribing), and standard operating procedures.
  • Technical considerations, including videoconferencing platform requirements, HIPAA and state privacy requirements, and appropriate room set-up for telemental health sessions.
  • Clinical considerations, including patient and setting selection, ethical issues, and factors to consider when treating specific populations (children and adolescents, patients in correctional settings, military, and more).

It should be noted that the guide is not intended to be an exhaustive list of the do’s and don’ts of telemental health; it is to be used as a practical starting point when setting up and using clinical videoconferencing in a practice.

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