What exactly is a telehealth?
The term “telehealth” refers to the use of telecommunication techniques for the purpose of providing telemedicine, medical education, and health education over a distance.
Video-conferencing is one of the main ways in which telehealth is improving access to healthcare services for patients who live in regional, rural and remote areas.
How is a Psychiatric telehealth medico-legal assessment conducted?
Psychiatric telehealth medicolegal assessments are conducted across two different locations. The claimant is located in the Insurer’s or lawyer’s office or a GP’s surgery where the environment is professional, quiet, and there is access to support if required. The Psychiatrist is located in their medical consulting room.
The 2 locations are connected via a cloud-based network which is launched when both the Psychiatrist and the claimant’s rooms click on the unique hyperlink provided. Participants will be placed in a virtual waiting room until both are on the line, at which time the video-conference will commence. eAssess does not use skype and therefore personal details are never exchanged. The eAssess teleconference line is secure and unique to both parties for the booked assessment- it cannot be used by anyone else at any time. Both the claimant and the Psychiatrist will be able to see and hear each other. Neither is able to turn their vision or audio off.
At the end of the consultation, the red button on the screen is pressed by either party to hang up.
How does a telehealth assessment differ from a face to face assessment?
Psychiatric medicolegal assessments lend themselves well to the use of telehealth due to the non-physical nature of the assessment. A psychiatric telehealth assessment is conducted in a similar way to a face to face assessment and follows the same line of evaluation. The key difference is that both parties are located remotely, and are connected via a video-conferencing link.
How does a telehealth assessment commence?
Prior to the assessment, both the Psychiatrist and the claimant’s rooms will be provided with a hyperlink to access eAssess. At the commencement of the appointment, both the Psychiatrist and the claimant’s rooms will click on the hyperlink provided to launch the videoconferencing technology. When both parties are in attendance, the assessment will begin.
Are telehealth assessments recorded?
No. For privacy reason assessments are not able to be recorded.
Are telehealth assessments an acceptable means of undertaking a psychiatric medico-legal assessment?
Yes. Over the last 3 years more than 2,500 psychiatric medico-legal assessments have been conducted, particularly with those living in regional, rural and remote areas (or overseas), and for whom travel to a city location will cause undue additional stress and anxiety. Feedback from claimants who have undertaken their assessment via telehealth have reported favourable Net Promoter Scores, many expressing their preference for a telehealth assessment over a face to face assessment.
Furthermore, telehealth assessments are now regularly used by both defendant and plaintiff clients. Contact MAG for further details.
Do telehealth assessments stand up in court?
Telehealth is only a means of communicating with a claimant. In a legal setting it is always the quality of the information that determines its value, and this is reliant upon the Psychiatrists’ review and report writing.
What protocols apply to conducting a psychiatric medicolegal assessment via eAssess?
There are a number of protocols that apply to when conducting eAssess telehealth assessments:
- Assessments are not to be conducted on small screened devices such as mobile phones, iPads, notebooks, or similar. The quality of the screen resolution and its size is important for assessing the examinee.
- The claimant is to undertake the assessment without a chaperone, unless this has been previously requested and approved by the assessing Psychiatrist
- The claimant is not to conduct the assessment from their place of residence. It is to be conducted from a controlled environment such as the insurer’s or lawyer’s office, or a medical/allied health consulting room.
- The referrer is to sign off (or have signed off by an authorised person on location) that all protocols have been met.
- If the Psychiatrist has any concerns that these protocols are not being followed, they may terminate the assessment.
How can I book an eAssess telehealth assessment?
To book an eAssess telehealth assessment simply log in to the MAG CIRRUS platform, select “Accept tele-assessment” and choose your preferred Psychiatrist from the available listing.