Dancing to the (Algo)rithm?

Posted: June 18, 2019

Dancing to the (Algo)rithm?
Morgan T. Sammons, PhD, ABPP
Executive Officer of the National Register of Health Services Psychologists

Telehealth is suddenly a hot property. According to the Global Telemedicine Market Outlook for 2020, the market for telemedicine is projected to grow from $26B in 2018 to over $40B in 2020, although these estimates seem to be at the high end of projections. The investment website Investopedia ranked the firms CareClix, Doctor on Demand, myTelemedicine, Teladoc, and iCliniq as proven industry leaders in telemedicine. All of these sites offer, with varying degrees of access, almost immediate virtual consultation with a healthcare provider via smartphones, specialized apps, or websites. Some connect with billing portals to coordinate covered payments for services.

As usual, the market for psychological services is much smaller than that for medical services, but as you are all aware, telepsychology has captured the interest of mental health professionals and entrepreneurs for some time. Recently, a New York company called TalkSpace announced a partnership with Optum Behavioral Health (a UnitedHealthcare subsidiary, and the subject of recent high-profile lawsuits as discussed in my May 2019 column) to provide covered services to 2 million Optum insured patients. The company has raised capital of more than $100M to fund expansion, and reportedly contracts with over 5,000 therapists. Patients can text or leave voice/video messages for a flat fee of $49/monthly. Live video interactions cost more. 

 

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