Is Your Doctor Becoming Lazy with Online Therapy?

Lazy doctor
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Doctors tend to be dedicated professionals, but some of them find it daunting to convey that professionalism online. The issues are multi-faceted. Wikipedia gives us a solid at-a-glance definition of online mental health therapy with “Telemental health (or telebehavioral health, telepsychiatry) is the use of telecommunications technology to provide behavioral health services.” It’s a good starting point for some of those multifaceted issues, especially a specific practitioner’s devotion to his online practice.

Dr. Nicholas Jenner PsyD MA shared his thoughts about bringing his level of professionalism to the online therapy world at his platform provider’s website. His major concerns are credibility, patient privacy and that he enjoys the wide-ranging clientele that online therapy affords to him. He’s clearly interested in the well-being of his clientele.

America’s National Institutes of Health shared relevant information and insights in a 2015 update about the telemental health topic. Look over the “Efficacy” section of the NIH article to realize that online therapy tends to succeed.

You need to understand the references to CBT in that article. This brief definition could prove helpful: Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is a conversational experience focused on helping the client to adjust their thought processes (cognition) and behaviors in order to better deal with specific problems. CBT is sometimes referred to as “Talk Therapy.”

Online therapy began decades ago, but its frequency only increased in approximately 1992. This 2012 article from the online BJPsych ‘Zine, dedicated to the needs of mental health professionals, indicates that Scotland’s mental health professionals are catching up to their US-based and Australian colleagues. Take note of the Security Issues section, the Grampian Eating Disorders Service (“It has proved vital for service provision in terms of the region covered and the patients’ needs being met appropriately.”) plus a specific remark in the Conclusions: “Use of telemedicine in mental health settings can help to solve many of the problems in effective service provision in remote and rural regions, notably by improving equality of access.”

Legal issues are a reality in any medical or therapeutic practice. Telepsychiatry is no different, though it is provided in a sometimes unwieldy environment. That fact influences the world of online therapy. This article by a law firm highlights some of the problems.

Medical Economics ‘Zine did an opinion piece entitled Doctors are Lazy, but its conclusions indicated otherwise. Page four cites the interference of political pressures, the time-consuming, often irrelevant need to maintain certification (see here for more information) and bad publicity for medical practices and practitioners. The writer’s closing words are reassuring to the public, a peek into many medical minds:

“Patients value good doctors who give them time, act in their best interests, and are competent. Board certification doesn’t guarantee any of that. In fact, MOC encourages doctors to be “test-takers” and in this way disadvantages them. The entire recertification process is out of sync with doctors’ intellectual, psychological, and practical needs. If the CEO of the ABIM wants greater transparency he must remove the ignored and unresolved intellectual, psychological and practical difficulties that cloud and distort the MOC process in the first place.”

Edward Volpintesta, MD Bethel, Connecticut

The evidence points to the fact all of us, doctors included, remain human. Our foibles, strengths and other character traits influence our digital lives as well as those on actual soil. You’ll sense if your doctor is meeting your needs inside the office or on-screen. The good news is that most of them tend to pay a necessary amount of attention to their patients in all venues. Laziness is not a common problem.