Telemental health: responding to mandates for reform in primary healthcare

Telemed J E Health. 2013 Jun;19(6):438-43. doi: 10.1089/tmj.2013.0084. Epub 2013 Apr 23.


Telemental health (TMH) has established a niche as a feasible, acceptable, and effective service model to improve the mental healthcare and outcomes for individuals who cannot access traditional mental health services. The Accountability Care Act has mandated reforms in the structure, functioning, and financing of primary care that provide an opportunity for TMH to move into the mainstream healthcare system. By partnering with the Integrated Behavioral Healthcare Model, TMH offers a spectrum of tools to unite primary care physicians and mental health specialist in a mind-body view of patients' healthcare needs and to activate patients in their own care. TMH tools include video-teleconferencing to telecommute mental health specialists to the primary care setting to collaborate with a team in caring for patients' mental healthcare needs and to provide direct services to patients who are not progressing optimally with this collaborative model. Asynchronous tools include online therapies that offer an efficient first step to treatment for selected disorders such as depression and anxiety. Patients activate themselves in their care through portals that provide access to their healthcare information and Web sites that offer on-demand information and communication with a healthcare team. These synchronous and asynchronous TMH tools may move the site of mental healthcare from the clinic to the home. The evolving role of social media in facilitating communication among patients or with their healthcare team deserves further consideration as a tool to activate patients and provide more personalized care.

MeSH terms

  • Evidence-Based Medicine
  • Health Care Reform*
  • Home Care Services
  • Humans
  • Mental Health Services / legislation & jurisprudence
  • Mental Health Services / organization & administration*
  • Patient Participation
  • Patient-Centered Care
  • Primary Health Care* / legislation & jurisprudence
  • Primary Health Care* / methods
  • Psychiatry
  • Telemedicine*
  • United States