November 21, 2016
Office of Mental Health Announces New Telepsychiatry Regulations to Expand Access to Psychiatric Services
New Regulations Enable 250 Providers Across New York State to Offer and Access Telepsychiatry Services
ALBANY, NY – The New York State Office of Mental Health (OMH) today announced the adoption of new regulations which will expand the availability of psychiatric services in communities throughout New York. The new regulations will allow virtual psychiatry appointments between any providers licensed under Article 31 of the Mental Hygiene Law, with specific provisions to ensure quality of care and patient confidentiality. Previous regulations enacted in February 2015 limited the use of telepsychiatry between Article 31 licensed clinics.
“Due to a nationwide shortage of psychiatrists, especially in rural communities, access to psychiatric services can be difficult to find,” said New York State Office of Mental Health Commissioner Dr. Ann Sullivan. “Under these new regulations, a patient in Vestal will now be able to receive mental health services from a psychiatrist in Valhalla, with minimal wait time. Telepsychiatry is yet another tool in our expanding service package that will provide earlier and easier access to mental health services for New Yorkers.”
The expanded regulations open telepsychiatry services up to 250 mental health providers who were not previously permitted to use the technology, such as Comprehensive Psychiatric Emergency Programs, Inpatient Programs and Partial Hospitalization Programs. The regulations exclude Assertive Community Treatment and Personalized Recovery Oriented Services programs, as the model for success of these programs are based upon face-to-face interactions between providers and individuals in care. The revised regulations continue to include a number of safeguards to ensure quality of care, patient confidentiality, and add provisions to monitor the impact upon the programmatic resources of OMH-licensed providers.
“As a key component of our eHealth initiative that also brings telehealth services to network intensive care units, last year the Westchester Medical Center Health Network became the first non-state operated provider in New York to incorporate telepsychiatry into its behavioral health care process. In this short period of time, the practice has proven to be very beneficial to clients and our services,” said Stephen Ferrando, MD, Director of Psychiatry at Westchester Medical Center, Maria Fareri Children’s Hospital and Behavioral Health Center. “Clients are experiencing an easier and more efficient process, appointment cancellations have decreased dramatically and our behavioral health specialists are able to provide their expert counsel to more clients. As far as Westchester Medical Center Health Network is concerned, telepsychiatry has been well worth our investment.”
Participating providers are required to provide information to prospective clients regarding the usage of telepsychiatry to ensure that clients can make an informed decision about the use of this method of treatment delivery. OMH has also issued guidance to its providers, which includes technological standards to ensure that the equipment allows the psychiatrist to manipulate the camera via pan, tilt, and zoom, in order to better observe the patient’s body language. OMH anticipates further expansion of the regulations to include its use with all licensed providers in an effort to ensure that individuals in all regions of the state will have timely access to behavioral health services.
To read the newly adopted regulations in their entirety, click here: http://on.ny.gov/2egD6C9
To view a video demonstration of telepsychiatry, click here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8kkOsY3A498