Timing is everything when you are delivering life-saving care. Dr. Thomas Kim, psychiatrist and internist, knows this well and has made his practice 100% virtual to deliver telemental health services at critical moments. This immediacy helps him reach patients as crises arise when other healthcare providers simply wouldn’t be available.
Improving Access with Telemental Health
Traditional care models and overall inefficiencies in the US healthcare system often make it hard for psychiatrists to consult with patients more than once every 2-3 months. However, Dr. Kim strongly opposes that delivery cadence and looks to telemental health as a way to improve access to care. Also, virtual providers like Dr. Kim are not constrained by regular office hours and can provide real-time interventions with telehealth and the Direct Health app.
“I would much rather find ways to be the right doctor at the right time, with the right information,” Dr. Kim told Direct Health. “It’s the timing of it, of the touch that allows people to stay on their path. I think that telehealth does that.”
Addressing a Frightening Statistic
Dr. Kim has also gone beyond his practice and considers it a professional life goal to help other physicians understand the benefits of telemedicine. He does this in order to combat what he says ‘one of the most startling, scary statistics’ in healthcare: physician burnout.
Currently, four out of five doctors report feeling overexerted and over half actually feel burned out by their professions. They also report some of the longest work hours of any professional field with most doctors averaging work weeks of 50+ hours.
However, Dr. Kim sees this professional burnout as an avoidable outcome. Telemedicine helps to mitigating the strain on doctors because they can maintain a healthier work-life balance and not be tied down to their clinics.
In a May interview Dr. Kim told mHealthIntelligence that, “[Telemedine] is not exceptional or peripheral to healthcare. This is healthcare.”
Virtual & Mental Health: A Likely Match
The field of psychiatry lends itself to digital health because providers do not need to be in the same room as the patient for most sessions. Dr. Kim finds that telepsychiatry using Direct Health equals the outcomes of in-person care. And, a recent study of people with serious mental illness actually found that patient engagement in telemental health services edge out that in traditional care.
This is particularly important for mental health providers as depression is the leading cause of disability worldwide, and over half the US population with a mental disorder do not receive the care they need.
Digital healthcare brings technology to patients where they are: on their mobile phones. That means that consulting with their psychiatrist or mental health provider is never more than a text away.
Dr. Kim told us, “I truly believe that telehealth, specifically the Direct Health value proposition, is everything.”
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