Alaska Telepsychiatry Service Providers
Alaska, like many states, has struggled over the years to cope with the shortage of psychiatric clinicians. However, Alaska also has its own set of unique challenges due to its geography which has resulted in a shortage of health care workers of all disciplines. Telepsychiatry is an excellent solution for the state of Alaska to continue to build upon its initiatives to increase access to care without having to be limited by distance. The benefits of establishing a telepsychiatry program at your community mental health care center can be substantial; allowing more patients to be seen and reducing wait times, all while providing your community with the high-quality care it deserves.
Mental Health Statistics for Alaska
Although the state of Alaska has taken measures by developing a strategic plan of action for addressing the mental health care services available in the state which includes the use of telehealth; Alaska is still ranked 46 overall for the prevalence of mental illness and access to care by Mental Health America. This ranking has improved from 47 to 46 between the years 2018 and 2020, showing promise if necessary measures are taken.
Rankings that fall between 39 and 51 indicate an overall higher prevalence of mental illness and lower access to care. With Medicaid and parity laws in place that provide reimbursement and coverage for telepsychiatry services, this presents an opportunity to improve this ranking by adopting the use of telepsychiatry at your facility. To further illustrate the lack of access to care in Alaska, the Health Resources & Services Administration in a 2018 report found there to be 75 health professional shortage areas for the mental health discipline alone.
Alaska Telepsychiatry Reimbursement & State Regulations
Each state is different when it comes to laws and regulations surrounding telemedicine. What is permitted in one state may not be in another which is why it is important to become well acquainted with your state’s unique guidelines before establishing a telepsychiatry program.
Medicaid Reimbursement Eligibility in Alaska
Alaska law states that Medicaid will reimburse for services provided through “live video” correspondence as long as the services are deemed medically necessary and within the scope of the provider’s licensing. Live video is defined as video conferencing technology that involves two-way communication between the provider and the patient.
Services eligible for Medicaid reimbursement include:
- Initial or follow-up office visit
- A consultation to confirm a diagnosis
- A diagnostic, therapeutic or interpretive service
- Psychiatric assessments, including substance abuse assessments
- Psychotherapy or medication management services on an individual recipient basis
Parity Laws in Alaska
Health care insurers providing coverage in Alaska are required to provide coverage for mental health services provided via telehealth by a provider licensed in Alaska. The law also states that this parity law is limited to mental health care services. For more information about laws and regulations surrounding telehealth in Alaska, the Center for Connected Health Policy’s website is an excellent resource for staying up to date on policies in your state.
Considering the unique challenges that facilities in Alaska face due to its location and number of rural communities, the most impactful benefits of telepsychiatry are removing the barrier of distance and increasing the reach of specialized clinicians.
Distance is no Longer a Barrier
Access to mental health care is a challenge that communities all over the country are facing. The use of telepsychiatry increases the number of patients that can be treated by taking away the barrier of distance. Because of this, a clinician can live wherever they choose and still practice in the states in which they are licensed. This is critical for communities in Alaska that are so limited in the number of behavioral health care clinicians.
Making Specialized Clinicians Available
The behavioral health workforce shortage can be even more difficult in situations that require specialized clinicians. Clinicians with sub-specialty training are often essential when treating complex cases or patients in crisis. With telepsychiatry, facilities can be connected with specialized clinicians in far less time than they would if they had to wait for a local clinician to be available. However, finding the right professionals in a timely manner can often be a challenge which is why partnering with a telepsychiatry company like innovaTel is so beneficial.
Implementing Telepsychiatry in Alaska
At innovaTel Telepsychiatry, we believe that everyone deserves timely access to mental health care. We partner with facilities in a variety of settings to increase access to care through the use of telepsychiatry. Our model is the simplest in the industry with a focus on minimal workflow changes for your staff.
- We get to know your clinical needs and only present you with top-notch, qualified clinicians for your team to choose from
- The selected clinicians become credentialed with your payers and document concurrently in your EMR
- Your chosen clinician will hold a set schedule with your organization and your patients will still come into your clinic following the same workflow. The only difference is the clinician connects virtually rather than being there in person.
Included in this service model, we offer a comprehensive onboarding and implementation process to all of our partners. Our telepsychiatry experts understand the challenges that clinics in Alaska are facing, which is why we take the time necessary to provide onboarding and continued support throughout the duration of your partnership.
Alaska Telepsychiatry Services from innovaTel
If your Alaska care facility is interested in establishing a telepsychiatry program, we encourage you to request an introductory call with our experts today. During the call, we will learn more about your facility, your needs, and discuss with you how we can help.
- “Best Telepsychiatry & Telemedicine Psychiatry Services.” InnovaTel Telepsychiatry, https://innovatel.com/telepsychiatry-services/. Accessed 27 Apr. 2020.
- “Current State Laws & Reimbursement Policies.” cchpca.org, https://www.cchpca.org/telehealth-policy/current-state-laws-and-reimbursement-policies?jurisdiction=31&category=All&topic=All. Accessed 27 Apr. 2020.
- “Current State Laws & Reimbursement Policies – Live Video Eligible Services.” https://www.cchpca.org/telehealth-policy/current-state-laws-and-reimbursement-policies/alaska-medicaid-live-video-eligible-servicesspecialties. Accessed 27 Apr. 2020.
- “Current State Laws & Reimbursement Policies – Private Payer Laws.” https://www.cchpca.org/telehealth-policy/current-state-laws-and-reimbursement-policies/alaska-private-payer-laws-requirements. Accessed 27 Apr. 2020.
- “HRSA Fact Sheets.” Data.HRSA.Gov, https://data.hrsa.gov/data/fact-sheets. Accessed 27 Apr. 2020.
- “Overall Ranking.” Mental Health America, https://www.mhanational.org/issues/ranking-states. Accessed 27 Apr. 2020.
- Strengthening the System: Alaska’s Comprehensive Integrated Mental Health Program Plan 2020-24. http://dhss.alaska.gov/Commissioner/Pages/MentalHealth/default.aspx. Accessed 28 Apr. 2020.