Doctor on Demand, a telemedicine service, has expanded its behavioral health portfolio by launching a psychiatry service on February 2 and getting its first patient.
The company’s new psychiatry line augments its psychology service, which it started offering in December 2014. Doctor on Demand was formed more than two years ago and offers live-video urgent care telemedicine services via smartphones, tablets and desktop computers at a cost of $40 per session.
Psychologists use therapy to help patients talk through their problems; psychiatrists are physicians who also counsel patients but may prescribe and monitor medications to treat symptoms, says Donovan Wong, a psychiatrist and medical director of mental health at Doctors on Demand.
Consumers seeking behavioral health services can register on the Doctors on Demand website, read profiles of medical and mental health providers, including spoken languages and times available for consultations, and select a provider. While an urgent care teleconsultation is generally a one-time or occasional event, if patients like a behavioral health provider, they can establish an ongoing relationship.
The cost of online mental health services is considerably more than urgent care teleconsultations. Psychology costs $50 for 25 minutes or $95 for 50 minutes, and psychiatry costs $220 for an initial 45-minute visit and $95 for 15-minute follow-up visits. When registering, consumers are asked for their insurance status, and a real-time eligibility verification check can let them know what their co-pay will be. Doctor on Demand recently signed its 400th employer, bringing the number consumers covered by medical and behavioral services to more than 45 million, Wong says.
Doctor on Demand only conducts live video medical and behavioral treatment sessions, in contrast to phone consultations, “which in our mind doesn’t meet the standard of care,” Wong says. “We actually need to be able to see patients to treat them. We gather so much more information when we can see and observe, such as a bruise on the face or that a patient just looks very depressed.”
The company has more than 300 mental health professionals to serve its two behavioral health programs, and the psychiatrists also can support increased access to care in hospital and emergency department settings. The new psychiatry service initially is available in 27 states, with nationwide coverage expected by mid-2016. More information is available here.
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