It's not a scene out of "The Jetsons," but it's close.
With a Web camera and a secure privacy-compliant computer server at a nearby facility, the
"It started in
Since its inception, the program has serviced about 11,000 patients. About 4,000 of those were seen in the last six months.
"I started the tele-health thing during December and January for follow-ups with people I had as patients in
Chandran has now been at
"The big difference is that you're not in the room, so there is that little depersonalization in that sense initially compared to if you're in the room," he said. "Once people get to know you, they're very comfortable.
"Kids embrace the technology, so they're really big fans. Kids may be afraid in person; there's worry in the back of every child's mind, but through the computer, they can be very animated and make faces on the TV."
The psychiatrist is based out of Chestnut Ridge Center in
From that point, the nurse can take vital signs, and the psychiatrist is able to do an evaluation. Doctors can even issue prescriptions.
Services aren't offered in home because of a lack of secure connection. Some homes don't have Internet at all.
"We have rigorous requirements that we have to ensure are compliant with HIPPA to maintain the utmost confidentiality for the patient," Law said.
"We equate it to
Participating counties are
Law said counties that are willing and in need are ideal candidates.
"There are possibilities to expand even further," she said. Services in the future could include therapy for illness that requires more specialized care.
"Our goal is to keep everyone from having to travel so far," Law said. "Some are limited financially and geographically. The hope is that they would receive care they could get at a high-quality institution and get it as close to home as possible.
"I think West Virginians are in dire need of additional mental health resources. Our program has been so well-received that we're continuing to receive requests to expand."
Chandran said his patients are appreciative.
"When you go so far away, people think you don't get where they're coming from. Being from
"I apologize I can only meet with them through TV, but they're grateful they don't have to drive an hour or 45 minutes each way."
For more information on the program, visit www.hsc.wvu.edu/telemedicine/Telemedicine-Services/Outpatient-Services/Telepsychiatry.
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