Those of us lecturing across the country in 1997 predicted that video was the medium of the future for behavioral health care. Now 12 years later, the US government sees fit to approve “telehealth” care through TriCare, the third-party carrier for many military and their dependents.
As many practitioners know, these federal programs set precedents for much other health care. Watch out health care world, here come the first wide-scale video-mediated practitioners!
Below, see the announcement sent by email from TriCare West yesterday.
TRICARE Offering Telehealth Program – ATTN: Behavioral Health Prescribing Providers
Effective August 1, 2009, TriWest Healthcare Alliance will be implementing the new TriWest Online Care program, a program to increase behavioral health service for TRICARE active duty service members (ADSMs) and active duty family members (ADFMs) via telehealth services.
Providers can participate in this exciting opportunity as an Originating Site Facility or a Distant Site Facility. An Originating Site is the site where an eligible TRICARE beneficiary is located when the service is being furnished via a videoconferencing system. A Distant Site is the location where a TRICARE provider will render services being furnished via a videoconferencing system. TRICARE will reimburse for both types of services.
One of the areas in which we need to augment existing access to providers is in the area of behavioral health prescribers. Our TRICARE beneficiaries, particularly those located in rural areas, would benefit from additional access to those distant providers who can prescribe medications to behavioral health patients. Only network providers located in the West Region are currently eligible to participate in the demonstration project with TriWest.
TriWest sent an e-mail survey on June 10 to providers with information in order to gauge interest in participating in the program. If you are interested in providing additional care options for your TRICARE beneficiaries by offering space in your office for beneficiaries to access these services or by becoming a TRICARE Distant Site Behavioral Health Care provider, please click this link and complete the short questionnaire identifying your potential interest. The local network representative will follow-up with those providers indicating an interest. If you already have responded to the survey and have been contacted by your local network representative, there is no need to take the survey again. If you are interested in participating, please respond to the survey by Friday, June 26.
Here are the links to information regarding distant sites and originating sites. For more information regarding TRICARE Telemedicine policies, please refer to the TRICARE Policy Manual, Chapter 7, Section 22.1, at www.tricare.mil.