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Nursing Home Residents Visit Doctor Via Video

Residents of Falling Spring Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in Franklin County, PA aren’t bothered by the fact that one of their doctors is 400 miles away. Video conferencing brings their doctor to them.

According to an article on PublicOpinionOline.com, the county has contracted with a telemedicine provider to receive psychiatric services. Residents meet with a geriatric psychiatrist using video conferencing technology.

Falling Spring is the first county nursing home in the area to provide behavioral health services through video conferencing.

The nursing home began exploring video conferencing options when its previous provider dropped its services to Falling Spring because the provider’s behavioral nurse retired.

“Psychiatrists here in town are extremely stretched,” said Dr. Barry Parks, Falling Spring nursing home administrator.

The county found a company out of California to provide the teleconferencing services, as well as the necessary equipment for teleconferencing. The county sends to the teleconferencing company the reimbursement it receives from Medicare for arranging an appointment and getting the resident there. The teleconferencing company then bills the resident’s health insurance for the session, and in nearly all cases the provider in Medicare.

Teleconferencing will not change how much the nursing home pays for psychiatric services, but it does improve the cash-flow situation at the nursing home.

Behavioral health services help patients with depression and those who act out when trying to deal with frustration.

“The use of telemedicine technologies for mental health care are widely used and one of the fastest growing areas in telehealth,” said Benjamin Forstag, spokesman for the American Telemedicine Association.