Wisconsin Turns to Telepsychiatry in Light of Increasing Demands and Shortage of Professionals

Video conferenceLike other fields of business, the healthcare industry has seen rapid growth and development as new technology, software, and devices make seeing, diagnosing, and treating patients easier and more efficient. One of the biggest trends today is the move to telemedicine and telehealth services in general. The state of Wisconsin is the most recent entity to start adopting these services on a broader scale, according to the Milwaukee National Public Radio station.

Supply and demand is the backbone of business and in many cases the catalyst for new improvements and developments. As companies try to meet increasing demands in whatever field, many times they end up innovating the industry altogether.

That’s essentially the principle at play in this situation. Last year the Kaiser Family Foundation estimated Wisconsin was in need of about 200 psychiatrists to meet their demands. This has caused a backlog of patients waiting months sometimes just to get the medical attention they need.

“The waiting list is getting longer and longer,” says Dr. Jon Lehrmann of the Medical College of Wisconsin. “In some areas of our state, patients have to wait 3-6 months to see a psychiatrist. It’s just not acceptable.”

Professionals believe they can combat this problem with the help of telepsychiatry software and services that allow doctors, or in this case psychiatrists, the ability to “see” their patients virtually from hundreds of miles away through video-style platforms.

It’s a setup that many patients seem to enjoy; about 5% more telepsychiatry appointments were kept in one 18-month study, or 92% total, compared to traditional visits, only 87% of which were kept.

One of the things that’s helped to spur the psychiatric industry is the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare), which has opened the door to a whole group of people who would otherwise probably not have the means necessary to get treatment.

Another factor influencing the shortage of professionals is due to the fact that the retirement rate is greater than the influx of new professionals.

Many students are opting for different paths instead of incurring the exorbitant student debt associated with medical school for a profession that is relatively low on the compensation scale when compared with medical doctors, surgeons, and other medical professionals. With more and more Baby Boomers retiring every day the demand for these services are expected to only keep rising.

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