A telepsychiatry start-up called 1DocWay is helping mental health patients in rural areas access treatment while helping hospitals tap into a new market.
According to Samir Malik, co-founder 1DocWay, more than 80 million Americans live in designated mental health shortage areas, depriving them of access to the mental health care they need and putting them at risk for ending up in higher cost settings such as emergency rooms.
Samir Malik - Photo courtesy 1DocWay
1DocWay, an innovative mental health treatment solution co-founded by Malik (a former psychiatric hospital executive) and two associates, aims to decrease that risk through telepsychiatry.
So far, the company has facilitated more than 18,000 digital patient sessions in seven states, with 85 percent of patients returning for follow-up visits. The company will soon be offering telepsychiatry in New York State under the New York Digital Health Accelerator program.
According to Malik, 1DocWay not only helps psychiatrists reach and treat patients who might not otherwise have timely access to treatment, it also helps hospitals expand their base, build stronger community relationships, drive more referrals and create new revenue streams. The company says 100 percent of the sessions it facilitates are covered by Medicare and Medicaid.
There are two components to the 1DocWay business model: services and technology. Together, they provide hospitals with everything they need to offer remote telepsychiatry without getting bogged down in logistics, technological or administrative hiccups.
“We know what it takes to get these programs up and running,” says Malik.
Potential telepsychiatry sites
The company has identified nursing homes, critical access hospitals and fully qualified health centers as possible treatment centers. Patients wanting psychiatric care simply book their appointments and visit their nearest treatment centers, where staff seat the patients in front of a computer ready to receive their 1DocWay session.
We navigate all of the work around licensing, credentialing, reimbursement, coordinating schedules to make sure that the programs that are put up are reimbursed well and are sustainable for everybody involved.
- Samir Malik, co-founder 1DocWay
The technology side of the house is even simpler, says Malik.
[We use] a HIPPA-compliant video tool [that contains] scheduling, documentation, reporting and online prescribing – all the tools a provider needs in order to deliver care online are served up on one interface. Gone are the days of coordinating across multiple systems, faxes and paperwork.
Proof of concept
And as far as patient satisfaction goes, a randomized trial examining “telepsychiatry through videoconference versus face-to-face conventional psychiatric treatment” found no real difference between virtual and in-person visits.
The study involved 140 psychiatric outpatients who were randomized to either treatment or videoconference telepsychiatry treatment.
The study demonstrated that telepsychiatry treatment through videoconference has equivalent efficacy to [face to face] psychiatric treatment. Telepsychiatry was shown to be an effective means of delivering mental health services to psychiatric outpatients living in remote areas with limited resources.
What I find interesting about all of this is that the study dates back to 2006, almost 10 years ago. While I applaud the entrepreneurs at 1DocWay for leveraging technology and a clinically proven platform for delivering telepyschiatry, the time lag in delivering said services (at least through 1 Doc Way) speaks once again to the sad reality that medicine can sometimes be a slow adopter of change.
If you or anyone you know has used telepsychiatry or are a telepsychiatry provider, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I would love to hear from you!
The nuviun blog is intended to contribute to discussion and stimulate debate on important issues in global digital health. The views are solely those of the author.