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Telehealth & TeleMental Health: The New Standard

The Ultimate Resource Page for
Ethical, Legal, Clinical, Technological, & Practice Considerations

Resources & Updates for Psychotherapists, Counselors,
Marriage & Family Therapists, Social Workers, Psychiatrists and Other Mental Health Professionals

This page is part of an Online Course, Telehealth: The New Standard
Ethical, Legal, Clinical, Technological, and Practice Considerations

CE Credits (CEUs) for Psychologists, LMFTs, Social Workers, Counselors and Nurses
CE Approvals by APA, BBS-CA, ASWB, NBCC, NAADAC, CA-BRN & more

 

Telehealth, e-therapy, online therapy, online counseling, tele-medicine, e-counseling, or tele-mental health: all refer to the use of digital technology to provide clinical services, such as assessment and treatment. Telehealth activities may include providing clinical services by telephone, email, chats, interactive televideo communications technology such as Skype, or via virtual reality (VR) such as Second Life (SL), to individuals in conjunction with face-to-face (f2f) therapy or with no in-person contact. States and organizations vary in their definitions of telehealth.

 

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U.S. Department of Health and Human Services on Telehealth

Department of Health and Human Services Visit the website of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' Health Resources and Services Administration. This useful site provides a report on telehealth licensure requirements and trends for many health professions across the country. By clicking on Publications you then have access to their Telemedicine Licensure Report, the document "Telemental Health: Delivering Mental Health Care at a Distance," and a number of other useful documents and links.

 

Organizations That Provide Platforms for Online Therapy, E-Therapy, or "Tele-Mental Health"

e-therapyMake sure to verify that the platform you choose to use is HIPAA compliant and complies with your state, federal, and your state and national professional organizations rules, codes of ethics, laws, and/or regulations.

Be especially aware of platforms and services that offer anonymous therapy. The organizations that offer these services may not be vulnerable to litigation or other liability for ethical and legal infractions the same way you are. I.e. you may be vulnerable to liability even when the platform provider is not.

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Telehealth Across State Lines

State Lines

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Second Life

Second Life & Virtual Realities

 

Cloud Storage, EHR, EMR & HIPAA

Cloud Storage and HIPAAThe use of cloud storage of medical records has proliferated in recent years.

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Insurance, Billing, Reimbursement & CPT Codes in Online Therapy, E-Therapy & TeleMental Health

Insurance and billing for services

 

Malpractice Insurance for Telemental Health or Online Therapy

Reviewing online insurance policies and the literature on the topic, it is my general understanding that the following insurance companies will cover telemental health, e-therapy or online therapy if the insured practices legally, within the scope of his/her profession, and within the scope of his/her expertise (call your insurance company to verify your coverage):

  • American Psychological Association Insurance Trust (APAIT) generally covers licensed psychologists. Gerry Koocher, Ph.D. a Trustee for APAIT, posted the following on 1/15/13: "The professional liability policy provided by The Trust is a broad-based policy and would cover any policyholder for civil liability or board complaints arising out of provision of telepsychology services in the same way it provides coverage for other claims and complaints. No provider of professional liability coverage, however, will cover claims of criminal liability."
  • American Professional Agency covers psychologists and other mental health professionals. In response to my inquiry regarding their coverage of telemedicne and telemental health in Jan. 2013, I received the following response on on 1/16/13: "Please be advised, that while this activity would be covered under the policy there are some factors you should take into consideration. First, if you do not hold a license in the state where your patient resides and one is required, you may not be covered by the policy. Second, you must be HIPPA compliant, which includes, but is not limited to, using a secure site to avoid any breach of a patient's rights. Being non-compliant, could put you at risk to fines and penalties, as well as having a suit or complaint being brought against you for breach of confidentiality."
  • NASW Assurance Services which covers social workers, posted An Important Caution for Social Workers Practicing Online Therapy, which includes these statements: "The Social Work Professional Liability Insurance policy sponsored by NASW Assurance Services provides coverage worldwide, as long as the claim is made and the suit is brought in the United States, its territories, possessions, Puerto Rico or Canada. Therefore, it's not necessary to purchase another policy for internet, phone/telecommunication practice... There may be different requirements and/or licensure in the various states in which you may be practicing. As stated in VI. EXCLUSIONS under item Q. of the insurance policy, coverage would be excluded for a wrongful act committed while you did not have a license as required by law. You must be practicing legally for the policy to afford coverage."
  • CPH covers CA MFTs and other mental health professionals. CPH states on its web site regarding coverage for E-therapy or Internet Therapy: "Yes - provided such practice is authorized or allowable under the scope of your license in the state where you practice and provided you are performing such services lawfully. Contact your state licensing board if you are unsure."
  • TelMed is affiliated with American Telemedicine Association (ATA).

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Telehealth Technologies & Related Matters

 

Psychotherapists' Professional Associations on Telehealth

 

Professional Telehealth Associations

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State TeleHealth Laws & Licensing Boards

 

Federal Resources, Laws, and Regulations

 

University Centers for Telemedicine

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Online Telehealth Publications and Journals

 

Miscellaneous Resources

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Psychology of the Web & Telehealth

Psychology of the Web

 

Bibliographies

Bibliographies

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Guidelines by Prominent Organizations on Telemental Health

 

Telehealth Updates

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