Your Guide to Virtual Healthcare Options for Addiction Treatment If going to a treatment program in person is inconvenient, impractical or impossible for yourself or a loved one, consider telemedicine options. Hazelden Betty Ford offers outpatient treatment for alcohol and drug addiction and other mental health conditions through telehealth technologies. Here's what you need to know about the accessibility and effectiveness of telehealth services for addiction. What is telehealth? Telehealth involves the use of technology to deliver healthcare services to patients, removing the need to travel for care. Examples of remote healthcare delivery include telephone-based services, videoconferencing and video visits, texting and virtual chats, smartphone applications, and online, web-based tools. "Telemedicine" is another term used to describe these types of virtual healthcare services. For some, the term telemedicine refers specifically to a medical or clinical use of technology while the term telehealth refers more broadly to a variety of virtual health care services, online therapy, outpatient programs and telemedicine solutions increasingly available to consumers. Telemedicine is also commonly referred to as e-health, digital medicine and virtual care. How does virtual healthcare work? Telehealth care delivery and care management have evolved dramatically over the years. While virtual healthcare delivery varies by the types of services the patient needs and their access to devices and digital technologies in the home environment, two of the most common forms of telemedicine include: Patient portals. Most medical and healthcare providers offer digital care management through patient portals that are accessed via the web. With username and password protection, these interactive, web-based accounts allow patients to review their health history, exchange emails with their healthcare provider, request medication refills, schedule appointments and view lab or test results. Virtual appointments. Rather than a face-to-face medical visit or therapy session, virtual appointments allow healthcare providers and mental health professionals to deliver treatment or counseling over the phone or through video conferencing. Video conferences are typically conducted from the patient's home, but in some situations, the patient might be required to drive to a clinic or office for a virtual appointment with a specialist. Delivery methods for virtual patient care and online therapy sessions vary, but HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) compliance is a must. HIPAA was passed by Congress in 1996 and requires the protection and confidential handling of patient information and protected health records. How has telemedicine revolutionized healthcare, including treatment for substance abuse? Telemedicine services were originally created to provide patient care in remote or rural communities or areas where certain types of medical or specialized care were unavailable. Some telemedicine solutions were developed to reach people with mobility or transportation challenges. Today telemedicine solutions provide convenient, patient-centered health care for a multitude of medical and mental health needs. Ready to take the next step? Call 1-866-831-5700 or contact us today and our team of recovery experts will determine the most effective substance abuse treatment programs and services to help you reclaim your life from addiction. What kinds of outpatient drug rehab and mental health care are available? Online addiction treatment programs and online therapy programs are becoming more widely available. In fact, emerging research shows that telemedicine options for outpatient rehab can mitigate common barriers to getting help, such as geographic distance from a treatment program or stigma about the disease of addiction. Early indications suggest that online therapy and outpatient rehab programs have better participation rates than in-person treatment because the need to travel is eliminated, making regular attendance more convenient and likely. What's the difference between in-person and virtual outpatient addiction treatment? At Hazelden Betty Ford, online addiction treatment incorporates the same evidence-based practices as our in-person services. A phone-based assessment helps to identify the type and level of services needed. For example, admission to an intensive outpatient program (IOP) could be a recommendation. An appointment with a licensed clinician could be another recommendation. Based on the needs of the individual, the duration of outpatient addiction treatment programming varies both in the number of days per week and hours per day. Online therapy sessions are integrated with addiction treatment programming for patients with co-occurring mental health concerns such as depression or anxiety. How is telemedicine transforming treatment in rural communities? Many rural communities have difficulty recruiting health care providers and mental health professionals. Patients who live in rural areas travel long distances in order to access medical and behavioral healthcare. Telemedicine visits—via video chat, online therapy service and other telehealth care delivery—allow patients to overcome those barriers. For chronic health conditions such diabetes, hypertension or substance use disorders (the medical term for drug and alcohol addiction), telemedicine can eliminate the need for routine, in-person visits because conditions can be monitored through virtual visits. How many patients use telemedicine? According to the American Hospital Association™, 76 percent of U.S. hospitals connect with patients and consulting practitioners at a distance through the use of video and other mobile or web technology. But according to a J.D. Power pulse survey, only 9.6% of Americans have actually used telehealth services. Nearly 75% of those surveyed responded that they either don't have access to telemedicine options or they are unaware of virtual health services. How much does online therapy cost? The cost of online therapy or online counseling depends on the health care provider and the services needed. Consider, too, that costs associated with online therapy sessions could include medications prescribed and other expenses. As a general rule, telehealth services are less expensive than a typical office visit. Many telehealth care options are covered by insurance. What types of online therapy are covered by insurance? Insurance coverage depends on a variety of factors such as the state where you reside, the type of insurance you have and the healthcare services provided. Check with your insurance provider to determine coverage for online therapy and related telemedicine services. Where can I find telehealth treatment for substance abuse? Hazelden Betty Ford provides telehealth addiction treatment options for individuals needing an outpatient level of addiction treatment (as compared with an on-site residential or inpatient treatment program). Our insurance-eligible telehealth treatment programs and HIPAA-compliant technology platform ensure patient accessibility and privacy. All Hazelden Betty Ford virtual outpatient treatment services, including intensive outpatient programs (IOP), are designed to replicate our in-person services and run on a similar schedule. Learn more about all of Hazelden Betty Ford's RecoveryGo telehealth services.