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Telehealth Access Blocked by Traditional Psychology Referral Services

Psychology Telehealth

Telehealth Access Blocked by Traditional Psychology Referral Services 

by David Eric Rosenthal, Ph.D.

August 10, 2018

(Please see below for all individual State listings)

I am an Illinois Licensed Clinical Psychologist. I am also licensed in New Jersey and New York.

My wife and I recently moved to Chicago. My background includes 30 years of full and part-time private practice in New Jersey, as well as 26 years of service in the New Jersey State Psychiatric Hospitals. I also have active Psychology licenses in New Jersey and New York.

Upon moving, I have converted my practice to a HIPAA compliant online-only practice (“Secure Online Psychotherapy”). I practice out of my home in Chicago, with no “walk-in” clients.

I am a member of NJ PA, and I have just joined IPA. In looking at both of their Referral Service materials, however, I found that I have a concern.

As far as I could see, there is no provision for being listed as a ” Virtual Psychology Provider”. The referral listings seem to be completely based on ZIP Code or Location..

This approach has always made a lot of sense in traditional referral models, where people travel to visit a nearby Psychologist for therapy sessions. However, this traditionally utilized (what I call a “brick and mortar”) approach to referrals is significantly limited since the advent of telehealth.

Alternatively, there could possibly be a searchable “specialty” of secure online psychotherapy which potential clients could choose in their traditional search. Again, however, if their ZIP Code is the primary way of identifying the group of providers who might be of interest to them, potential clients could never find providers such as myself. I can accept referrals from anywhere in these three States.

As an example of what I am suggesting, I have been an in-network provider for Optum Behavioral Health and its companies for many years. I am now listed by Optum in New Jersey as part of a State-wide category of their online “Live and Work Well” Provider Directory called “Virtual Visits”. This category is separate but is presented alongside their more conventional ZIP Code based search, which they also provide.

My inclusion in this Optum provider category allows consumers from anywhere in New Jersey who are Optum customers to choose to work with me via telehealth. I am working toward being included in the Illinois and New York versions of “Live and Work Well”, again under “Virtual Visits”.

There are many things to discuss. However, I have would like to offer one way to bring this issue into perspective.

Among many other directions and pursuits, APA seems very involved with trying to facilitate making Psychology services much more available to the rural and underserved populations of our country. I think it’s fair to say that this is both a humanistic direction in terms of potentially helping clients and patients, and is actually central to the continuation and expansion of Professional Psychology.

This perspective requires the availability of telehealth services. The word” availability” however has two meanings in this context.

First, telehealth services must exist. Secondly potential clients and patients must be able to find them to be able to use them.

As part of the significant concerns about extending the availability of psychological services to underserved populations, I would pose the following question:

I have a new telehealth practice. Right now, I could offer 15-20 secure online psychotherapy slots per week to potential clients living in rural and underserved areas of Illinois, New Jersey, or New York State.

However, if potential clients living in rural areas contact APA or their State Association, how could they find me?

What follows is my examination of this issue. I visited the website of every State Psychology Association as well as those of APA and Washington, DC. I did this twice, to ensure accuracy..

While visiting each site, I looked at how their “Find A Psychologist” or similar search engine worked. Where available, I opened up many drop-down boxes for area such as “specialty”, etc. I searched many sites using their search bar and drop-down menus for the words “telehealth”, telepsychology” or telemental.

I have listed the results of my searches below,by State. I have found APA and the State Psychology Associations almost completely lacking in terms of having a way for the public to find those of their members who provide telehealth services.

Given the discussion above, I think that it is clear that we all must do much more to leverage these more recent developments in telehealth to the benefit of our clients and patients, and of our own profession.

Thank you.

APA ZIP CODE/LOCATION BASED-NO APPARENT WAY TO SEARCH FOR STATEWIDE TELEHEALTH PROVIDERS. NO SEARCH CRITERIA PROVIDED FOR TELEHEALTH, TELEPSYCHOLOGY, OR TELEMENTAL.

AL ZIP CODE/Location based-No apparent way to search for statewide telehealth providers. Search criteria categories (e.g., “Specialized Services”) do not include telehealth.

AK ZIP CODE/Location based-No apparent way to search for statewide telehealth providers. No results in sitewide search for telehealth, telepsychology, or telemental.

AZ ZIP CODE/Location based-No apparent way to search for statewide telehealth providers. No results in sitewide search for telehealth, telepsychology, or telemental.

AR No apparent way to search for statewide telehealth providers. No search criteria provided for telehealth, telepsychology, or telemental.

CA ZIP CODE/Location based. Provider practice specialty options do not include telehealth. Allows for a 500-mile range to search but apparently can’t search for statewide telehealth providers. No search criteria provided for telehealth, telepsychology, or telemental.

CO ZIP CODE/Location based. Apparently can’t search for statewide telehealth providers. No search criteria provided for telehealth, telepsychology, or telemental.

CT ZIP CODE/Location based. Psychologist quote area of interest” search enabled, but searches for telehealth, telepsychology, or telemental produced no results. No apparent way to search for statewide telehealth providers.

DE  Allows for a search based on telehealth, under “therapy type” category. This search for all counties listed resulted in four practitioners in the State being identified as offering telehealth.

FL ZIP CODE/Location based-No apparent way to search for statewide telehealth providers. No search criteria provided for telehealth, telepsychology, or telemental.

GA Allows for search on telemental health under “specialty”. 14 providers in the State are identified as offering Telemental health.

HI Allows for search on telemental health- 1 provider identified in the State.

ID “Find A Psychologist” apparently requires a login. Site did not allow me to sign in with my Facebook information.

IL ZIP CODE/Location based-No apparent way to search for statewide telehealth providers. No search criteria provided for telehealth, telepsychology, or telemental.

IN ZIP CODE/Location based. No apparent way to search for statewide telehealth providers. No search criteria provided for telehealth, telepsychology, or telemental.

IA ZIP CODE/Location based-No apparent way to search for statewide telehealth providers. ” Find A Psychologist” searches on telehealth, telepsychology and telemental on the site return no hits.

KS ZIP CODE/Location based. No apparent way to search for statewide telehealth providers. No search criteria provided for telehealth, telepsychology, or telemental.

KY No apparent way to search for statewide telehealth providers. No search criteria provided for telehealth, telepsychology, or telemental.

LA “Find A Psychologist” site is under construction-not available.

ME No apparent way to search for statewide telehealth providers. Searches on telehealth, telepsychology and telemental on the site return no hits.

MD ZIP CODE/Location based-No apparent way to search for statewide telehealth providers. No search criteria provided for telehealth, telepsychology, or telemental.

MA ZIP CODE/Location based-No apparent way to search for statewide telehealth providers. No search criteria provided for telehealth, telepsychology, or telemental.

MI ZIP CODE/Location based-No apparent way to search for statewide telehealth providers. No search criteria provided for telehealth, telepsychology, or telemental.

MN ZIP CODE/Location based. Search returns one psychologist for telehealth.

MS ZIP CODE/Location based-No apparent way to search for statewide telehealth providers. “Professional services offered” category does not include telehealth.

MO “Find A Psychologist” requires password-telehealth search unknown.

MT No “Find A Psychologist” section found.

NE No apparent way to search for statewide telehealth providers. Searches on telehealth, telepsychology and telemental among the members return no hits.

NV Selection by county-No apparent way to search for statewide telehealth providers. No mention of telemental, telehealth, or telepsychology in search criteria.

NH ZIP CODE/county based-No apparent way to search for statewide telehealth providers. No mention of telehealth, telepsychology or telemental in search criteria.

NJ ZIP CODE/county based-No apparent way to search for statewide telehealth providers. No mention of telehealth, telepsychology, or telemental in search criteria.

NM “Find A Psychologist” requires password-telehealth search unknown.

NY County based-No apparent way to search for statewide telehealth providers No mention of telehealth, telepsychology, or telemental in search criteria.

NC Location based- No apparent way to search for statewide telehealth providers. No mention of telehealth, telepsychology, or telemental in search criteria.

ND No “Find A Psychologist” section found. No results in sitewide search for telehealth, telepsychology, or tele-mental.

OH Telepsychology listed as a search option under “treatment and practice areas”. Searching on telepsychology returns 13 psychologists.

OK Location based-No apparent way to search for statewide telehealth providers. No mention of telehealth, telepsychology, or telemental in search criteria.

OR Location based-No apparent way to search for statewide telehealth providers. No search criteria provided for telehealth, telepsychology, or telemental. Information provided for providers about telepsychology.

PA Location based-No apparent way to search for statewide telehealth providers. No search results for telehealth, telepsychology, or telemental

RI ZIP CODE/Location based-No apparent way to search for statewide telehealth providers. No search criteria provided for telehealth, telepsychology, or telemental.

SC Location based-No apparent way to search for statewide telehealth providers. No search results for members searching on telehealth, telepsychology, or telemental.

SD USES APA-APAPO “PSYCHOLOGIST LOCATOR” SEARCH ENGINE. LOCATION BASED-NO APPARENT WAY TO SEARCH FOR STATEWIDE TELEHEALTH PROVIDERS. NO SEARCH CRITERIA PROVIDED FOR TELEHEALTH, TELEPSYCHOLOGY, OR TELEMENTAL.

TN Can’t find a Link to “Find A Psychologist”.

TX Location based-No apparent way to search for statewide telehealth providers.

UT Location based-No apparent way to search for statewide telehealth providers. No search results for telehealth, telepsychology, or telemental.

VT psychologists listed by county and city-No apparent way to search for statewide telehealth providers.

VA ZIP CODE/Location based-No apparent way to search for statewide telehealth providers. No search criteria provided for telehealth, telepsychology, or telemental.

WA ZIP CODE/Location based-No apparent way to search for statewide telehealth providers. No search criteria provided for telehealth, telepsychology, or telemental.

WV Membership directory provided, but no apparent “Find A Psychologist” option. No apparent way to search for statewide telehealth providers

WI No apparent way to search for statewide telehealth providers. No search results for telehealth, telepsychology, or telemental.

WY refers to APA Help and Therapy Advisor.org (site could not be reached). No apparent way to search for statewide telehealth providers.

DC Location based. No apparent way to search for district wide telehealth providers. No search criteria provided for telehealth, telepsychology, or telemental.

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3 comments on “Telehealth Access Blocked by Traditional Psychology Referral Services

  1. I also moved out from CA where I am licensed and providing tele therapy to CA residents and also trying to figure out how to market my services…been licensed for 38 yrs.

    • Linda, Thank you for your inquiry. TBHI offers a 6-hour professional training program for clinicians who wish to market their services online. It is a recorded event and CE hours are available if your state board approves home study as part of your licensure requirements. Please check with your board if you need the CEs. Otherwise, here’s where you can register for the program: https://telehealth.org/marketing/

    • Linda,

      Linda, Thank you for your message. Many of the professionals who have trained with us are in a similar boat. Many had started working online without training, many are in semi-retirement and many are moving from one state or country to another.

      Those who were working online without training are often shocked to realize how much they didn’t know, and how vulnerable they have made themselves as well as the people they serve. Those in semi-retirement and in geographic transition are often delighted to fully understand how easy it can be to get set up properly to be in compliance with legal as well as ethical requirements.

      I hope your transition is smooth and that you can now practice both legally and ethically from your new location. Keep in touch.

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