How Mental Health Telemedicine Differs from In-Person Therapy

Technology has broken barriers, bridged gaps, and made our lives easier. It has also made a significant improvement to the mental health care stage through online therapy. 

Online consultations have made it easier for patients unable to visit the doctor to get a proper diagnosis for their condition. It also makes it easier for them to get a prescription and purchase their medication without hassle.

Undergoing online doctor consultations have grown more popular especially since COVID-19. And even though patients have been stuck at home unable to visit the doctor, they now have a way to get the care they need. Apart from various ways to recover from pandemic stress, patients can seek help from a professional.

In-Person Therapy vs Telemedicine for Mental Health

Even though mental health telemedicine is a feasible option, some patients still prefer the traditional method of in-person consultations. 

So you may be asking: What are the benefits of a face-to-face consultation? How does it differ from online therapies? Let’s go through some factors you might want to consider before you seek treatment.

Methods of Communication

Online therapy: By simply downloading an app or visiting a website, you can access various messaging, voice, or video conferencing platforms. Depending on the software or app, you can leave messages, create voice memos, or schedule a video call with your doctor conveniently. 

Face-to-face consultation: This type of conversation typically happens in your doctor’s office, where you can see each other face-to-face. Being physically present allows your doctor to observe body language and other non-verbal cues. These signals give a clearer picture of the patient’s feelings, mood, thoughts, and behavior for a more accurate diagnosis.

Convenience

Online therapy: Online therapy is generally more convenient than traditional consultations. It makes medical care accessible for those who live in remote areas, have disabilities, or are unable to leave the house due to old age or an existing condition. It has become a helpful alternative for those who struggle with mobility.

Moreover, online consultations remove the hassle of driving long distances to see the doctor. You can skip the long lines by simply scheduling the consultation on your smartphone. By having your sessions online, you can choose when to see your doctor. 

Online therapy covers a broad spectrum of health concerns, including mental health and other disease management programs. Some subscriptions cover sexual health, chronic diseases, and everyday care. 

Face-to-face consultation: There are times when visiting your doctor directly is more convenient than communicating online. For example, you can receive a physical examination for a more in-depth assessment of your condition. Moreover, some patients are more comfortable talking to someone in person rather than through a video call.

Another limitation of online doctor consultations is that you’ll be unable to go through procedures to treat injuries or wounds, for example. 

Cost

Online therapy: Patients usually pay for online therapy on a weekly or monthly basis. Most subscriptions let you save more if you’re registered over an extended period. Some doctors may also charge by the session, similar to an in-person therapist.

Face-to-face consultation: You only need to pay whenever you visit your doctor during the face-to-face consultation sessions. 

Effectiveness

Online therapy: For many patients, an online consultation is just as effective as in-person. After all, it is a convenient way to treat a wide range of mental health disorders, such as anxiety and depression.

Face-to-face consultation: While many prefer mental health telemedicine because of its many benefits, to others, it isn’t the best option. Some conditions need more intensive care that online therapy can’t provide.

Moreover, the journey to and from sessions can become a routine for other patients. Being physically present in the clinic can create a safe space where they can feel comfortable and at ease. 

Setup & Access

Online therapy: Online doctor consultations require more preparation. For the best experience, patients need a private space where they can’t be disturbed during a session. Moreover, they need to have a device such as a computer, laptop, tablet, or smartphone. Video calls, in particular, require a video camera. A stable internet connection is also recommended to ensure seamless communication.

Face-to-face consultation: There are a few to no preparations needed during in-person therapy. Patients simply go directly to the clinic. Medical equipment such as hospital stretches, wheelchairs, and weighing scales are convenient to use.

Privacy

Online therapy: One of the advantages of online therapy is remaining anonymous and just going by a nickname.

Face-to-face consultation: Keeping your identity confidential is difficult because you have to face your doctor physically.

Urgency

Online therapy: While technology has bridged many communication gaps, there is still a distance that it can never fill, especially when responding to urgent concerns. Some issues need to be addressed immediately, like in the case of mental health emergencies.

Face-to-face consultation: What online consultation lacks in urgency, in-person therapy makes up for in physical compassion. Some urgent issues are best talked about in person and can save a patient from harm.

Prioritize Your Mental Health

There are significant differences between undergoing in-person therapy and using telemedicine for mental health. Knowing which method works best depends on a patient’s condition, needs, and accessibility. While there are many factors to consider, the fact remains that your mental health should always be prioritized.

Get the help you need and always put yourself first. And remember that mental health is just as important as your physical well-being.

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