Healthcare Technology Featured Article

April 18, 2012

Telepyschiatry in Prisons a Win-Win

For some time now, therapists have conducted sessions online to counsel patients on everything from autism to recovery from having an affair. For a while, there was even a TV show about it.

Reasons for its use include geographical distance between therapist and client, convenience, and of course, cost.

But now it’s coming to prison. Correctional healthcare providers recently deployed a two-way telehealth V2VIP service, videophones and iV2VIP video softphones for low-cost, face-to-face mental health consultations over mobile devices nationally, according to a press release.

Benefits of this type of communication for prison populations include reduced travel expenses, reimbursements, risks and liabilities and a minimizing of on-site visits and inmate transports, all of which can cause disruption to prison routines, according to the source.

Wind Currents Communications, Inc. (WCCI) is providing prison healthcare professionals with the telehealth services and devices to facilitate mental health treatment within prison walls.

Experts estimate savings of $30,000 to $40,000 monthly per state, using the V2VIP service, a hosted VoIP platform, videophones and iV2VIP video softphone.

Municipal jails, county governments, law enforcement agencies in small, rural communities or large metropolitan cities and state/regional correctional facilities all operate with limited resources. These budget-friendly technologies dramatically reduce on-site physician visits and inmate transport while increasing patient access to specialty services such as mental health consultations and eliminating many budgetary headaches.

PubMed notes that prisons are not typical of the average population, as many inmates suffer from mental health problems and telepsychiatry is one way to provide counseling inexpensively and successfully.

A study by the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) found that inmates counseled in this way showed improvement over time, with the NCBI deciding that it was an effective way for therapy to be conducted.

Edited by Braden Becker

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