TBHI Q&A #18: Videoconference In Telepractice: Have you found videoconference acceptable for noting changes in the patient’s appearance or physiological functioning? I know both can help determine where the patient is at with their use patterns and SUD severity level.
The quality of the video is dependent on many factors, including connectivity (software platform you choose); infrastructure of geographical areas you want to access (sometimes, it is harder to get to someone on Fifth Avenue in NY than to someone in deep Kansas because of infrastructure issues, such as fire-walls that may be constructed to prevent interlopers in expensive apartment buildings or hospitals, etc.); your hardware, your client/patient hardware (camera, microphone and screen size/resolution). Those are only the many issues, but others exist, too.
So back to your question, can you do adequate assessment of appearance, well, it depends on the adequacy of your equipment, and the kinds of things you need to assess. For example, if you treat opioid users, you’d better get very high quality equipment (on both your own and your client/patient’s end) if you want to adequately assess pupil size, or get someone locally to be your assistant (which is common in traditional telehealth, BTW). Look for the 10th online course that we list on this page: https://telehealth.org/individual/, the one entitled: Telephone and Videoconferencing in Telepractice. It offers 3-hours of information, including well-developed descriptions of many of these technical issues, tips on how to enhance your use of the equipment, as well as clinical tips on what kinds of equipment needs you’ll want to consider with various clinical populations.
As for physiological functioning, again, it depends on the particular functioning you want to assess. Gait analysis, tremor, hygiene checks – these many many other issues have been very well assessed and documented with regard to telehealth in the scientific literature (evidence-base). Our 3-Hour ONLINE course is devoted to addressing these clinical issues in the context of telebehavioral health, and available 24/7 for 6 months after purchase if you are serious about wanting to understand these clinical issues in any depth.
If you want discounted package pricing for your training, see this page for our Certificate programs. These packages are deeply discounted groupings of professional training available 24/7 online for 6-months from purchase.
Hurray for your having asked this pivotal question! It actually is our legal and ethical duties to be thinking about these questions, then gaining the needed expertise before treating clients/patients through telehealth of any kind. Luckily for practitioners today, most of these issues have been researched and then been mapped out in exquisite detail through almost 70 years of documented research that began in the United Stated, but now is worldwide. We at TBHI have documented more than 4,000 peer-reviewed research articles and book chapters in behavioral health alone. We also have worked on the team that developed competencies for the Telebehavioral Health field. They just were published last week. See them here.