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How Telehealth Works

Overview

Telehealth allows individuals to access services remotely, without the need for in-person appointments. Whether for therapy, medication management, or nutrition services, treatment becomes more accessible and convenient, breaking down barriers such as distance, transportation limitations, and scheduling conflicts. Through secure video conferencing platforms, individuals can connect with their providers from the comfort of their own homes or any other private location, as long as they are physically within the state in which their provider is licensed to provide services. Telehealth offers the same level of professionalism, confidentiality, and effectiveness as traditional in-person treatment sessions. At River Oaks Psychology, we are committed to providing exceptional telehealth services that empower individuals to embark on their treatment journey with ease and convenience.

It is critical that patients are comfortable and competent with telehealth and realize the implications of relying on technology services. Patients must also be good candidates for telehealth care. We strive to carefully assess patient suitability for telehealth services in our initial evaluation. We also encourage you to think about your needs, preferences, comfort level, and any other considerations that may help you make an informed choice. Sometimes, we may begin telehealth services with a patient and after thorough evaluation determine that the patient may not be a suitable candidate for telehealth services given their clinical needs. If this occurs, we will assist with a smooth transfer to face-to-face treatment outside of River Oaks Psychology.

Please note that children under 8 years old are typically not suitable for telehealth, as they may experience difficulty engaging on-screen. Many children between 8 and 12+ enjoy telehealth, but the level of suitability for telehealth will vary. Depending on social skills, attention span, communication style, attachment patterns, and other factors, some children thrive on telehealth while others may struggle. We rely on parent/guardian information to help in the assessment of whether telehealth is the best treatment option for the needs of the child. Teenagers 13+ typically love telehealth and have positive results. 

Please note that telehealth services can only be provided to you by a provider licensed to practice in the state you are physically located in at the time of your appointment. Under no circumstances can a provider provide services to you if they are not licensed to practice in the state you are located in. 

Yes, we exclusively provide telehealth services for therapy, nutrition services, and medication management. We understand the importance of accessibility and convenience in today’s fast-paced world, which is why we have chosen to offer appointments through secure online platforms. With telehealth, you can receive services from the comfort and privacy of your own home, eliminating the need for travel and allowing for greater flexibility in scheduling appointments. Our telehealth services maintain the same level of professionalism, confidentiality, and effectiveness as in-person treatment. Through video sessions, our highly qualified clinicians are dedicated to providing you with the support and guidance you need.

For ALL of our services – including therapy, nutrition services, and medication management – you have to be physically located in a state where your provider is licensed to practice. While telehealth eliminates the need for in-person appointments, there are certain limitations regarding where you can be located for telehealth sessions. Our providers are licensed to practice within specific states, and therefore, you must be physically located in the state where your provider is licensed to provide services. This requirement ensures that we adhere to state regulations and professional standards of care. However, within the boundaries of the licensed state, you have the flexibility to access services from the comfort of your own home, office, or any private space where you feel comfortable. Our goal is to make treatment as convenient and accessible as possible while prioritizing compliance with legal and ethical guidelines.

Although telehealth is online, there are important legal and ethical considerations to keep in mind. As clinicians, we are bound by state licensing regulations, which require us to be licensed in the state where our patients are physically located during the sessions. This ensures that we are practicing within the legal and ethical boundaries set by the state licensing boards and upholding the standards of care specific to each jurisdiction. While we acknowledge the potential for connecting with treatment providers across borders, our commitment is to provide services within the scope of our licensing and in compliance with state regulations. We strive to offer high-quality services to individuals within the states where our providers are licensed, ensuring that our patients receive the professional and legally sound support they deserve.

If you have upcoming travel out of state, we recommend discussing it with your provider in advance. It is crucial to communicate with your provider to determine the options available to you during your time away. They can help guide you on the best course of action and discuss any potential limitations or alternatives for treatment while you are away. Our clinicians will work with you to find the best solution and ensure continuity of care, taking into account the specific circumstances and regulations involved.

No, at River Oaks Psychology, we currently only provide telehealth services and do not offer face-to-face appointments in person. Telehealth allows you to receive the same level of professional care and support through secure online platforms, all from the comfort of your own space. It eliminates the need for travel and offers greater flexibility in scheduling sessions. If you have any questions or concerns about our telehealth services, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us. We are here to support you.

No. We believe that the use of video during appointments offers a more comprehensive and effective treatment experience and we strive to replicate the face-to-face experience as closely as possible. Visual cues, such as facial expressions and body language, play a vital role in communication and understanding between the patient and clinician. They provide valuable insights and allow for a deeper connection and engagement during the session. Non-verbal cues can often convey emotions and nuances that may not be captured through audio alone. Additionally, the visual component helps ensure a more accurate interpretation of the patient’s experiences, contributing to a more personalized and tailored approach to treatment. We recognize the importance of privacy and confidentiality and maintain strict protocols to safeguard your personal information during video sessions. Our aim is to provide the highest quality experience, and we believe that video sessions contribute significantly to achieving this goal.

No. Never. Rest assured knowing that your video sessions will never be recorded. We understand the importance of maintaining a safe and secure environment, and part of that commitment includes ensuring that your sessions remain completely private and confidential. We respect the sensitive nature of treatment and the trust you place in us. Your video sessions will only occur in real-time, allowing for open and candid discussions without any recording or storage of the session content. Our goal is to create a space where you feel comfortable, heard, and understood, and we uphold strict ethical standards to protect your privacy throughout the telehealth process.

Setting Up Telehealth

Our Platform

At River Oaks Psychology, we prioritize the privacy and security of all patient information during telehealth sessions. To ensure confidentiality and compliance with HIPAA regulations, we have chosen SimplePractice as our telehealth platform. SimplePractice is a trusted and fully secure platform that meets the highest standards of data protection and HIPAA compliance.

With SimplePractice, all telehealth sessions between our providers and patients are conducted in a secure and encrypted environment. The platform employs advanced security measures to safeguard client information, including secure video and audio communication channels. Additionally, patient data and communication within the SimplePractice system are protected through robust security protocols and industry-standard encryption.

For any problems setting up for your telehealth appointment, please contact your provider for help. Your provider is also instructed to contact you if they suspect you might be having any technology problems. We are happy to help you work through any troubles and we find that most issues are a rare occurrence and can be quickly resolved.

To protect the confidentiality of your telehealth session, neither providers nor patients are permitted to record any audio or video during appointments. Our commitment to confidentiality means that your therapy session remains private and secure. Please do not record any audio or video for any reason while your appointment is in progress.

Prepare Your Environment

To ensure privacy for your telehealth therapy appointment, here are some steps you can take:

  • Find a quiet, comfortable, and secluded space:  Choose a room or area where you can have uninterrupted privacy during your session. Close the door and be sure that you feel comfortable with the environment, considering the room temperature, lighting, furniture you’ll use, or other factors. Other strategies include checking the soundproof level of the room. To increase your soundproof level, you may want to use a sound machine to help block out sounds or you could turn on an electric fan to block out noise from your location. 
  • Inform household members:  Let others in your household know that you’ll be in a private meeting and request their cooperation in keeping noise and interruptions to a minimum. If possible, request that they avoid using shared spaces during your appointment time. You may also need to coordinate your schedule with other people you live with, such as scheduling your appointments when you know everyone else will be busy. 
  • Consider a physical barrier:  If you are concerned about visual privacy, you can create a physical barrier, such as closing blinds or curtains, using a room divider, or positioning yourself in a way that ensures your session remains unseen by others in your home.
  • Confidentiality reminders:  Place a sign or notice outside the room you’re using for appointments, reminding others not to disturb you and to respect your privacy.
  • Use headphones or earbuds:  Using headphones or earbuds can help maintain confidentiality by preventing others from hearing the conversation. It also helps you focus more on the provider’s voice without any potential distractions.
  • Set up adequate lighting:  Position yourself in a well-lit area to ensure that your provider can see you clearly. Natural light or adjustable lamps can help create a comfortable and well-lit space.
  • Ensure a strong Internet connection:  Check your Internet connection beforehand to ensure it is stable and reliable. A wired connection using an ethernet cord or sitting closer to the router can help improve the quality of the video and audio. 
  • Secure your Wi-Fi network:  Make sure your Wi-Fi network is password-protected to prevent unauthorized access. This adds an extra layer of security to your telehealth session. Please note that using public Wi-Fi or a neighbor’s Wi-Fi increases your security risks.
  • Ensure digital security:  Use a secure and private device for your telehealth session. Make sure your computer or mobile device has updated security software.
  • Test your audio and video: Prior to the session, check your microphone, speakers, and camera to ensure they are functioning properly. Adjust the volume settings and camera angle for optimal communication.
  • Turn off other devices:  Close unnecessary apps or programs on your computer or mobile device and put your phone on silent mode. This reduces the chances of notifications or incoming calls interrupting your session.
  • Grab any comfort items:  Surround yourself with comforting objects or items that make you feel at ease, such as a cozy blanket, a favorite mug for a warm beverage, or a calming essential oil diffuser. There is no shame in having tissues nearby if you’re feeling tearful. Your feelings are valid, and you are completely allowed (and encouraged) to be as authentic as possible during the session. Showing emotions like crying is completely normal. 

Joining the Session from a Desktop / Laptop

If you’re using a desktop or laptop computer for your telehealth appointment, you won’t need to download anything ahead of time.

To join the video call:

Check your email:  You should receive an email with a link to access the telehealth session. Look for this email in your inbox, including any spam or junk folders.

Click the session link:  Once you locate the email, click on the provided link to join the session. This link will typically direct you to a SimplePractice webpage. It should open in a regular Internet browser and you will not need to download anything.

Allow access to your camera and microphone:  Grant permission to access your camera and microphone when prompted on your screen. This will enable you to communicate with your provider through video and audio.

Enter your name:  When prompted, enter your name or a preferred username to identify yourself during the session. This is how your provider will recognize you.

Wait for the session to start:  Once you have completed these steps, you will enter a virtual waiting room. Your provider will join the session at the scheduled appointment time.

Joining the Session from a Mobile Device (Phone / Tablet)

Before you can join a telehealth appointment from your mobile device, you’ll need to download the free Telehealth by SimplePractice app (available for iOS or Android). 

To join the video call:

Check your email or texts on your mobile device:   Look for a message containing the information and link to join the telehealth session. Make sure to check both your email inbox and any text messages you may have received.

Install the free SimplePractice app:  If you haven’t already, download and install the SimplePractice app from the App Store (for iOS) or Google Play Store (for Android) on your mobile device.

Open the SimplePractice app:  Once the app is installed, open it on your mobile device.

Enter with the appointment link:  Enter the unique video appointment link from your appointment reminder and select Continue

Enter your name:  When prompted, enter your name or a preferred username to identify yourself during the session. This is how your provider will recognize you.

Allow access to your camera and microphone:  You may be prompted to grant permissions for the app to access your camera and microphone. Allow these permissions to ensure video and audio communication during the session.

Wait for the session to start:  Once you’re in the session, you’ll be in a virtual waiting room. Your provider will join the session at the scheduled appointment time.

Troubleshooting Tips

When encountering technology issues while using the SimplePractice platform for telehealth, here are some common troubleshooting steps that you can try:

Check your internet connection:  Ensure that you have a stable and reliable internet connection. Try restarting your modem or router if needed.

Use a supported browser:  Verify that you are using a supported browser for the telehealth session. SimplePractice recommends using Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, or Safari for optimal compatibility.

Clear browser cache and cookies:   Clearing your browser’s cache and cookies can help resolve certain technical issues. Consult your browser’s settings or preferences to find the option to clear cache and cookies.

Disable browser extensions:   Disable any browser extensions or plugins that may interfere with the telehealth platform. Sometimes, these extensions can disrupt the video or audio functions of the session.

Restart your device:  Restart your computer or mobile device to refresh the system and clear any temporary glitches.

Test your audio and video settings:  Before the session, check that your microphone, speakers, and camera are properly connected and functioning. You can use the audio and video settings within the telehealth platform or your device’s system settings to perform tests.

Update software and drivers:   Ensure that your operating system, browser, and any relevant software or drivers are up to date. Outdated software can sometimes cause compatibility issues.

Try a different device or network:   If possible, switch to a different device (e.g., laptop, tablet, or smartphone) or network (e.g., Wi-Fi or cellular data) to see if the issue persists. This helps determine if the problem lies with the specific device or network you were using.

Test your connection speed:  Use an internet speed testing tool to check the stability and speed of your internet connection. A slow or unstable connection can affect the quality of your telehealth session. Consider moving closer to your Wi-Fi router or using a wired Ethernet connection for a more stable connection.

Restart the telehealth platform:  If you encounter glitches or frozen screens, try refreshing the page or closing and reopening the telehealth platform. This can help resolve minor issues related to the platform itself.

Disable other bandwidth-consuming activities:  Temporarily pause or limit activities that may consume a significant amount of bandwidth, such as streaming videos, downloading large files, or running other demanding applications. This can free up bandwidth and improve the quality of your telehealth session.

Use headphones or earphones:  If you’re experiencing audio issues or echo during the session, using headphones or earphones can help improve sound quality and prevent audio feedback.

Check your device’s power and battery:   Ensure that your device is adequately charged or plugged in during the session to prevent any unexpected shutdowns or interruptions.

Update your telehealth app:  If you’re using a mobile device and have a dedicated telehealth app for SimplePractice, make sure it is updated to the latest version. App updates often include bug fixes and performance improvements.

Test with a different device:  If you have access to another computer or mobile device, try joining the telehealth session from that device. This can help determine if the issue is specific to one device or if it’s more widespread.

Update your operating system: Ensure that your computer or mobile device is running the latest operating system updates. These updates often include important bug fixes and security patches that can improve the overall performance and stability of your device.

Technology Backup Plan

You and your provider should establish a backup plan in the rare instance that the video platform is not operational. This may occur due to Internet disruptions, power outages, or computers crashing, among other reasons. Typically, the backup plan will include your provider calling you at your preferred phone number, emailing you, texting you, and/or sending you a new link for your video session. Please discuss all options with your provider so that you feel comfortable and confident with a plan for backup.

If you choose to engage in emails, text messages, or mobile phone calls to connect with your provider in the event that your video telehealth session fails – or for any other purpose – you are voluntarily engaging in the potential security risks inherent within emails, texting, and mobile phone calls. Please discuss these with your provider if you have concerns. 

We take serious measures to provide strong, uninterrupted Internet connection on our end, but we also depend on your ability to have the means for telehealth. If a patient consistently does not have reliable Internet connection and sessions become repeatedly disrupted due to the patient’s Internet quality or strength, this may be an indication that telehealth services are not appropriate. We recognize that some patients may have problems with Internet reliability that are outside of their control, but nonetheless we need patients to have consistent access to strong, uninterrupted, reliable Internet treatment to be accessible to you. If face-to-face treatment seems to be a more appropriate treatment option for you, we will assist with a smooth transfer to face-to-face treatment outside of River Oaks Psychology.

We truly want you to have the best care possible.