People with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DDs) often have a difficult time getting to doctor’s appointments, and may miss out on important medical services as a result. A recently-introduced program in the state of New York aims to change that.
Premier HealthCare has begun to offer psychiatric telehealth appointments to those with I/DDs. The program enables patients in group homes to video-chat with mental health care providers. According to New York law, patients must first receive a diagnosis at an in-person appointment, but they can have therapy and medication management via the telehealth program.
Premier HealthCare will soon also introduce primary care and neurology telehealth appointments. Nurses at patients’ residences will assist by taking vital signs and performing any non-invasive tests that are needed.
According to a 2018 survey of caregivers in Long Island, 93% of residents preferred virtual appointments over in-person ones, and also had less anxiety associated with remote appointments. Elizabeth Ducat, a psychiatric nurse practitioner at Premier Healthcare, told DisabilityScoop that with in-person appointments, patients with I/DDs often experience anxiety while waiting in traffic or at an overcrowded clinic (especially if exposed to other patients who are having verbal or physical outbursts). Virtual appointments, on the other hand, can be conducted in a comfortable, familiar environment.
One possible downside of remote healthcare is that doctors are less able to build personal relationships with patients. Ducat notes, however, that certain individuals “may actually prefer less intimacy with their healthcare provider.” For these patients, virtual appointments could help to ensure that that they still get the medical care and attention they need.
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Doctors Making Virtual House Calls For Those With Special Needs. (2019, November 22). Retrieved December 18, 2019, from https://www.disabilityscoop.com/2019/11/22/doctors-making-virtual-house-calls-special-needs/27493/.