Video consultations are becoming more widespread in the mental health sector, as clinicians and patients realise the benefits of using the technology go far beyond saving time on travel.
healthdirect Video Call overcomes many logistical difficulties of face-to-face consultations:
Established in 2006, headspace provides early intervention mental health services for 12-25 year olds. healthdirect Video Call is part of everyday practice at headspace, connecting young people with mental health concerns to appropriate mental health professionals.
Psychiatrist for headspace, Dr Dave Cutts, values the simplicity and ease of use of healthdirect Video Call.
“My first impression of healthdirect Video Call was that it worked really well. I remember being impressed with the quality of the connection and the reliability,” says Dr Cutts.
“The technology should be invisible for the person at the far end, it should be primarily about facilitating the interaction and connecting with the patient. healthdirect Video Call is the platform I use out of preference in my private practice, along with the work I do for headspace,” he adds.
headspace started using healthdirect Video Call to deliver one-to-one patient/clinician consultations where distance was a barrier to care.
Deb Hopwood, National Telehealth Manager for headspace, explains. “Video consultations provide the means for young people who live in rural and remote Australia to have access to a psychiatrist.”
Dr Cutts shares his own experiences. “At the patient level, video consulting has heaps of advantages. I can see people in remote and rural locations who would have to drive a long way to see a psychiatrist, and in some cases it allows me to see people a bit sooner. Occasionally, I even video in to places where there is something like a flood and I wouldn't have been able to get there physically.
“Some people are just too anxious to get out of their houses, but they will do a video consultation. Young people are comfortable with the technology and seem to find it less confronting than a face-to-face consultation. Being at a distance provides a sense of protection. I suspect there are a number of reasons why people would attend a video consultation rather than a face-to-face consultation,” Dr Cutts adds.
healthdirect Video Call has been invaluable throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, allowing consultations with patients to go ahead despite constantly changing travel restrictions, and ensuring people with respiratory symptoms can still attend.
“Sometimes I say to my patients, ‘don’t worry, we can both cough as much as we like as we’re not in each other’s space,’” he says.
Video consulting technology delivers efficiencies for a range of appointment types, such as including other health professionals in multi-disciplinary case reviews and doing short check-ins with patients who are at risk or need additional support. Dr Cutts also finds healthdirect Video Call extremely useful for weekly clinical meetings with colleagues located in other parts of the country.
“We share screens so we can see electronic medical records while we discuss a case,” he explains.
Maintaining privacy and confidentiality is of the utmost importance for mental health consultations. The privacy and security of healthdirect Video Call and the way the platform has been designed to leave no digital footprint is very important in reassuring mental health patients they can freely express themselves during a consultation.
Dr Cutts begins each video consultation by making sure the patient is comfortable and informed.
“I start with a blurb about who I am and where I am. I let them know my door is closed, I’m by myself, the session isn’t being recorded and reassure them about the confidentiality of the platform,” says Dr Cutts.
headspace requests that patients do a pre-call test before their video consultations, to make sure they have the right tools on their device (browser, internet connection, microphone and camera) and that everything is working.
“Some people do it, some don’t,” Deb says. “The ones who do as requested are fine. The ideal is that the young person has an uninterrupted consultation to achieve the best possible outcome.”
“People overthink video consultations, but they’re not difficult. It’s just core clinical skills in a different environment,” adds Dr Cutts.
Browse the rest of the Resource Centre for how-to information about healthdirect Video Call.The Royal Australian & New Zealand College of Psychiatry also has many valuable telehealth resources.