Emerging Technology in Substance Abuse/Mental Health

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Telemedicine in Adolescent Substance Abuse
Gregory Butler
Soc 120: Introduction to Ethics & Social Responsibility
Instructor: Michael Pankras


Technology has allowed the world to operate totally different from the past. New emerging technology has made it possible for providers to be in one area or region of the world and provide care to patients in another area or region of the world in real time. Teleconferencing involves telephones and videoconferencing. Videoconferencing uses the Internet to make connections and encompasses the use of voice over Internet protocol. The voice over Internet protocol is connected with other data and software which can be compromised. There are a vast numbers of psychiatric providers that practice with in the city limits of any given area. However, there is still in overwhelming number of underserved patients that reside in rural areas. Teleconferencing is an intervention that has been around since the 1970s. In past times, it was used to treat patients with physical disabilities and other terminal illnesses (Choen, 2006, p. 417). Teleconferencing or telemedicine , as it more recently being referred to, is an option in mental health and substance abuse that can be used as an effective method to help parents of children with these aliments arrange the vicissitudes of treatment while still feeling some type of connection with the health care provider. In an article written by Hakak and Szeftel, the following was asserted….. There are fewer than 8,000 child psychiatrist in the United States and a limited number in the child psychiatry fellowship training; the Surgeon General estimates that less than 20% of the 13.7 million children and adolescents in need of treatment for mental illness receive care. Similar to the adult rates, 20% of the children and adolescents in the United States are estimated to have emotional and behavioral disorders. Almost three-fourths of smaller rural counties with populations of 2,500-20,000 lack a psychiatrist and 95% lack a child psychiatrist. Consequently, children in these regions with serious mental health problems are among the most disadvantaged in receiving care (Szeftel, 2008, p. 293).

“Telepsychiatry has been around for almost twenty to thirty years. (Bui, 2010, p. 491). Telepsychiatry has the ability to focus on the management of psychotropic medication via videoconferencing. Telemedicine is an intervention that is being more frequently used and considered in the field d of mental health and substance abuse especially in rural areas. “At least 18 states now pay for telemedicine care under Medicaid Programs, and six states now require insurers to reimburse patients for telepsychiatry” (Choen, 2006, p. 417). In some health care environments where there is a concern for the safety of the providers, telemedicine is being used also. As the health care field undergoes paramount changes to provide access and quality care to all, teleconferencing‘s relevancy, efficacy, and security needs to assed for its usefulness. Telemedicine can prove to be relevant in increasing access and as being convenient to those who have to do an extensive amount of traveling to have their medical needs met. Some groups that could potentially benefit from telemedicine include families of low socioeconomic status without means of transportation and those with physical disabilities. Telemedicine would also be applicable in meeting the challenges of those patients that reside in urban areas also. Some challenges in urban areas are socioeconomic challenges as it relates to an increased cost of transportation, limited public transportation, long waiting lists for treatment, and a low level of trust in providers especially those outside of the neighborhood. With every avenue of emerging technology in health care, there has to be sufficient need and proof of benefit to the patients that the...
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