Media Hype Around Skype -- Should Mental Health Professionals Seek Alternatives?

Media articles and videos touting the benefits of 'Skype Therapy' were rampant in 2011. Was this media attention helpful or harmful to mental health consumers and professionals?
 
 
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March 20, 2012 - PRLog -- Cheyenne, Wyoming --3/19/2012 -- As technology advances and the public demands increased accessibility to mental health services, mental health professionals are faced with the challenges of how to most effectively communicate with clients.  An area that is rapidly growing is "telemental health," also known as "online therapy." It involves the delivery of mental health services through the use of technology.  It is foreseeable that mental health delivery will increasingly rely on communication media such as e-mail, text messaging, chat, and videoconferencing.  Dr. Marlene Maheu, Executive Director of the TeleMental Health Institute, states, "We health care professionals using technology for contact with consumers need to both understand the limits of our chosen technologies and be trained well enough to communicate the risks and benefits of  those technologies to consumers of our professional services."
With more than 180 million active users, Skype offers numerous free communication benefits to individuals and businesses world-wide. The affordable price point may be tempting to mental health professionals who are considering building a telemental health practice.  However, a major risk associated with the medical use of Skype is that it makes no guarantees about HIPAA (The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996) compliance.  HIPAA mandates that health care providers have and distribute a policy for protecting a patient's communications and electronic medical records. Maheu states, "health professionals who are identified HIPAA covered entities must be able to provide written accountability to clients and patients when their protected health information has been breached. Currently, Skype makes no assurances to health professionals who use their platform for health care will have access to information about breaches. When choosing Skype to connect with consumers, how can professionals be practicing legally when Skype doesn't comply with HIPAA?"
In an upcoming webinar, Skype Update 2012: The Good, the Bad, the Ugly -- and Affordable Alternatives, Dr. Maheu will be interviewed by Dr. Joe Bavonese from UncommonPractices.com. She will highlight recent efforts by Microsoft to encourage developers to improve Skype's HIPAA compliance. She will  give an overview of the risks and benefits kony of using Skype and will explore affordable alternatives.. She will identify video platform features mental health professionals find beneficial when providing counseling, therapy, medical consultation and supervision.  This free, 1-hour webinar will be broadcast on Tuesday, March 27, 2012 at 2 PM Eastern/11 AM Pacific. TMH Institute also offers 1-CE credit and a recording of the event for a modest fee.

The TeleMental Health Institute, Inc. is the leading online telemental health training institute, devoted exclusively to addressing the emerging opportunities and challenges of telepsychiatry, telepsychology, online counseling, online therapy and coaching. Contact:  Marlene M. Maheu, Ph.D., Executive Director, TeleMental Health Institute, Inc.,

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The TeleMental Health Institute, Inc. is the leading online telemental health training institute, devoted exclusively to addressing the emerging opportunities and challenges of telepsychiatry, telepsychology, online counseling, online therapy & coaching.
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Source:Telemental Health Institute, Inc.
Email:***@telementalhealth.com Email Verified
Phone:619-255-2788
Zip:82009
Tags:Skype, Google, Therapy, Counseling, Online Therapy, Online Counseling, Social Media, Self-help, Telehealth, Telemedicine
Industry:Mental health
Location:Cheyenne - Wyoming - United States
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