Apps that put you on the couch

Despite the light tone of this Editor’s headline, telepsychiatry and telementalhealth or ‘mood’ apps aren’t frivolous in the least. The US Department of Defense (DOD) National Center for Telehealth and Technology (T2) T2 Mood Tracker and BioZen are two smartphone apps for biotherapeutic feedback [TTA 14 Feb]. Virtual consults are also not brand new–but controversial, as some have used Skype which the TeleMental Health Institute in a recent Psychiatric News article has scored on privacy (as in no).  Four new entrants are taking a different approach, with different models and HIPAA-compliant video consults.

  • TalkSession is first establishing itself as an authority for providers via an online forum and digital magazine–then as a booking source for online therapy.
  • Talktala is hosting online chats and forums moderated by therapists, and for more advanced services will charge users a $30/month subscription fee.
  • iCouch allows users to search for therapists, and then via computer or iPhone visit online through the site’s HIPAA-compliant system. Interestingly 30-40 percent of its current client base is international and has 165 therapists worldwide. (International visits are an interesting loophole in practice.)
  • Breakthrough is only for California residents at present, but plans to expand to Texas and other states. Patients again connect with a network of certified mental health professionals and conduct appointments via chat, email, phone or HIPAA-compliant video. Unlike the others, it has gained insurance coverage for its therapists’ services, shows real-time therapist availability and plans to enable on-demand, off-hour services.

Web therapy: 4 startups overcoming mental health taboos with technology (GigaOm)  Hat tip to David E. Albert, M.D. of AliveCor.

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