Health Care Comes to Us - The New York Times
The pandemic, an unemployment surge and unrest over racial inequality have made more Americans feel isolated, anxious or depressed. Psychological distress could prove temporary, but the hurt and the ripple effects are serious nevertheless.
Now here’s some good news. Benjamin F. Miller, a psychologist and chief strategy officer for Well Being Trust, a national foundation focusing on mental and spiritual health, told me something hopeful: In part because of technology, this moment in history contains the makings of more accessible and effective mental health care for everyone.
“Probably one of the most profound impacts that technology had in the pandemic is that the care now comes to the patients,” Dr. Miller said.
Since the start of the pandemic, Medicare and many private health insurers have changed policies to reimburse practitioners for patient visits by phone or web video at somewhere close to the payment rate of in-person visits.
Privacy rules were relaxed to let people use familiar web video services like Skype and not only medical-specific video sites. (Yes, this comes with a possible risk to patient information.)
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Telemedicine for all types of health care remains a tiny fraction of patient care, but many more people and providers have tried and liked it. Nearly every major mental health organization is pressing policymakers to make those temporary changes permanent, Dr. Miller said.