A popular new health technology company called Talkspace is looking to expand its line of services. Talkspace currently offers people the ability to connect with a therapist through a wide variety of remote communication mediums. This includes talking to a therapist or psychologist through text messages, video chat and even just by regular telephone.
The new healthcare company has now set its eyes on providing a new line of services. It presently lets people discuss issues such as relationship problems, depression, stress and anxiety with licensed and trained therapists. The therapists at Talkspace help the patient cope and deal with their mental health issues.
The new field that Talkspace is trying to delve into is psychiatry and not just therapy. This is a big step up from its current services. It may also impact its business model and practice.
To help it gain entry to the practice of psychiatry, Talkspace has hired Neil Leibowitz as the company’s first medical director. Leibowitz has previously worked as a behavioral health director for UnitedHealth Group in the state of New York. The move shows that Talkspace is serious about expanding into psychiatry services.
What is interesting about the hiring of Leibowitz is that he is a skeptic of online therapy and telemedicine. He did admit that he does not fully understand the way online therapy at Talkspace works, but that he is willing to work with the company as it looks to expand. Leibowitz says that to expand into psychiatry, Talkspace would have to work with insurance providers. The insurance companies would then reimburse Talkspace therapy and psychiatry services.
There is only one major insurance company right now that reimburses Talkspace’s online therapy service. That is Magellan Health. It offers reimbursement for Talkspace services through its employee assistance program. There would need to be a much greater coordination between Talkspace and health insurance companies if psychiatry services are to be provided.
Providing psychiatry services remotely would not be an easy feat. It means that trained and licensed psychiatrists would have to diagnose whether a person has mental health issues such as depression. This would entail the psychiatrist having access to a person’s medical history record electronically.
The good news for this push into psychiatry by Talkspace is that there is already a lot of enthusiasm to incorporate people’s medical history and records electronically. Congress has even taken steps to make electronic records more readily available to physicians. This would make it possible for psychiatrists to diagnose whether a person does have a mental illness or disease remotely. A question remains whether psychiatrists would be able to prescribe medicine through Talkspace’s online health program, though. That is a question that will have to be answered.
For now, Talkspace will stick to providing people access to online therapy services that can be conveniently accessed from almost any location. The therapy services can be accessed through a computer, smartphone, tablet or even a regular phone. Talkspace’s current draw is that people can interact with a therapist remotely and with some anonymity.
New medical director, Neil Leibowitz says that Talkspae is not trying to replace face to face therapy. Instead, he believes that online therapy from Talkspace can serve as a way to help improve the patient’s mental health and provide them with greater access to mental health services. Physicians can recommend Talkspace and online therapy as a possible solution to manage mental health problems such as anxiety and depression. Talkspace and physicians can work together instead of against one another to improve patient mental health.