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Telebehavioral Health: What Is It and Why We Need It

We met today’s radio show guests at the fall NCTide conference in Asheville, North Carolina. Telemental health is a hot topic with our behavioral health providers. InSight is one of the largest telepsychiatry service provider companies in the country.  As always, it is our pleasure to speak with business leaders with credentials in the world of behavioral health. 


1. What is telebehavioral health?

• Telebehavioral health is behavioral health care through real-time two-way videoconferencing
• Way to address the huge shortage of behavioral health providers, especially prescribers
o 97% of counties in the US have a shortage of psychiatric prescribers
• Way to increase access to care in rural, underserved areas and beyond
• For providers it’s a great way to have a more flexible lifestyle and practice
• People have been doing telebehavioral health in some form or fashion since the 60s actually, but obviously it did not take off until the technology was there to support it
• InSight is one of the oldest telepsychiatry companies in the industry and has been practicing telepsychiatry over 15 years now

2. Where is telebehavioral health being used?

• Hospitals
• Outpatient Facilities
• Primary Care
• Corrections
• Mobile Crisis Units
• Universities
• Extended Care
• VA/ Military
• Health Systems
• In-Home / Direct to Consumer

3. How does a direct-to-consumer model of telebehavioral health work?

• The direct-to-consumer model of telebehavioral health gives individuals the ability to access a behavioral health provider and have an appointment entirely online
• Many benefits for consumers
o Convenience
? Many providers offer weekend and nighttime appointments since everyone can do it from home or any private space
• Don’t have to take off of work, pull kids out of school, commute to an appointment
• Don’t have to wait in a waiting room
• Can continue to see your same provider when you go away to college or travel etc.
o Choice
? No longer limited to the behavioral health providers just within driving distance
• Can find a specialist who fits your specific needs
• Can work with any provider anywhere within your state
o Empowerment
? Consumers are able to be more engaged with their care when they have choice and flexibility
? Can you other online tools to enhance their care and treatment
• We have recently launched which is an online marketplace of behavioral health providers who do in-home care
o Can shop for a provider who fits your needs and schedule

4. How do consumers react to telebehavioral health?

• Consumers respond very well to telebehavioral health
• Lots of clinical research show that telepsychiatry has been proven as an effective medium care for essentially all populations and within all settings
• Children are particularly receptive to it
o Young people are technology native from the beginning
o Removes some of the power dynamics
o Makes children more likely to open up quickly

5. What are some of the pros and cons of a telebehavioral health practice for a provider?

• No Commute!
• Better quality of life
• Flexible lifestyle- For example, you an work from a vacation home for part of the year.
• Options- can do it through your own private practice or through a company that employs physicians and gives them support, benefits, technology etc.
• Direct-to-consumer online practice is way to expand a practice like never before
o Expand your private practice caseload to anyone where you are licensed, not just those within driving distance
o Can continue to see patients after they go away to college or when they are spending their winters vacationing in FL etc.

• Want to make sure you don’t feel isolated
• Should collaborate with onsite staff when applicable
• Many people supplement in-person work like teaching at a university etc.
• Make time to leave the house each day

6. What tips do you have for providers doing telebehavioral health for the first time?

• Make sure telebehavioral health is done appropriately and providers are comfortable with the new medium before they start
• Setup your technology and your room for ideal telebehavioral health care
• Practice!
• Come up with some tricks to adapt your regular style to telehealth
• Make it clear to the consumer that your encounter is not being recorded
• If serving a site- collaborate! Use your on the ground eyes and ears
• Work with mentors, take classes, make an effort to constantly learn!
• Get people talking about the medium of care to get them comfortable
• Know the emergency protocols
• Know the general location of your consumer, the culture factors etc. that you should consider

boyceGeoffrey Boyce

Executive Director

Geoffrey Boyce is the Executive Director of the CFG Health Network’s InSight Telepsychiatry. Since 2008, Boyce has advocated for the appropriate use and value of telepsychiatry and has developed unique telemedicine programs within areas of greatest need. Boyce is an active participant in telemedicine advocacy, education and reform initiatives, regularly interacting with state and local healthcare regulators and administrators. Boyce frequently speaks about the potential of telemedicine and the best practices for establishing new programs. Boyce holds an MBA from Terry College of Business at UGA with a focus on entrepreneurship and business planning.


jamesvarrellJames R. Varrell, M.D.

President and Medical Director

James R. Varrell, M.D. is the founder and Medical Director of the CFG Health Network and InSight. Dr. Varrell is American Board certified in Psychiatry and Neurology, and certified in American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry with a specialty in autism. Dr. Varrell has been at the forefront of telepsychiatry across the nation and continues to educate the medical community regarding the benefits of telepsychiatry through various presentations and forums as a panelist and presenter. Recent presentations have included engagements with the American Psychiatric Association, the National Rural Health Association, the American Telemedicine Association, and multiple Grand Rounds presentations. Dr. Varrell preformed the nation’s first involuntary psychiatric commitment via a televideo unit in 1999. Today, Dr. Varrell still regularly performs telepsychiatry evaluations and manages a staff of telepsychiatrists who see and treat patients in twenty-two states.

Have questions for Geoffrey Boyce or Dr. James Varrell?

Please visit their website at

behavioral health, clinical research, counseling, inSight, mental health, Mental Health News Radio, NCTide, psychiatrist, Psychiatry, Telehealth, telemedicine

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