14 Things to Do Before Initiating Your First Telepsychology Visit

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If you’re thinking about starting a telehealth psychology practice, there are a few essential things you need to do first. In this blog post, we’ll share 14 things you need to do before initiating your first telepsychology visit.

    1. Select an office or space which is quiet and private to maintain patient confidentiality.
    2. Ensure that your office is set up in a way that is comfortable and conducive to therapy. This means having appropriate lighting, a quiet environment, a reliable computer, a microphone, and a webcam.
    3. Ensure that you have adequate internet bandwidth available. This may require you to upgrade your internet package if you currently have a lower speed.
    4. You’ll need to use a HIPAA-compliant video conferencing platform for your telepsychology visits. Some popular platforms include Doxy.me, VSee, and Zoom. Be sure to test your video conferencing platform before your first visit! This will help you troubleshoot any issues and ensure that the visit goes smoothly.
    5. Sometimes the Internet just doesn’t work, so create a backup plan. Share this plan with your patients ahead of time, so they don’t panic or get frustrated if there are connectivity issues.
    6. Offer your patients a quick one-time visit to try out the technology and troubleshoot any technical difficulties before therapy begins. This helps clients unfamiliar with the technology get more comfortable using it.
    7. When possible, if running a group, have a second person available to problem-solve individual technical issues so the group session is not interrupted or delayed.
    8. If you’re administering forms or psychological assessments (such as patient self-report measures), figure out how you’ll perform them virtually.
    9. How will you convert in-person worksheets, homework, or images for the virtual world? Consider patients who don’t have easy access to technology like printers.
    10. Update informed consent forms to include the risks and benefits of telepsychology, as well as what is expected from the patient for a telepsychology visit. For example, advise clients to use a private network and to avoid using public wifi. Let them know what you’ll do if they access your session while driving, in public, or not in a secure location.
    11. Be thoughtful of your boundaries. Often there are fewer no-shows and cancellations with telepsychology, so you may want to account for this when you create your schedule to avoid overbooking yourself. Additionally, if patients are reaching you virtually, how do you want patients to communicate with you? During what hours can you be reached?
    12. If you work with trainees, check with the state licensing board about whether remote supervision is allowed, or if in-person supervision is required. This is especially crucial if trainees are coming from outside of the state where you are located.
    13. Create a reference spreadsheet or document to track any telepsychology insurance variations. Create a similar document to keep track of state-by-state regulatory variances.
    14. Identify any insurance coverage gaps. Specifically, whether individual sessions and group sessions via telepsychology are covered. Whether psychotherapy AND health and behavior codes are both covered for telepsychology. Encourage your patients to check with their insurance provider about coverage, prior to starting therapy.

Overall, there are a few things you need to do to set up your telepsychology practice. By following the tips above, you can ensure that your first visit goes smoothly and that you’re providing the best possible care for your patients.

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Meghan Beier, PhD

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