Telepsychiatry Services in South Dakota

For the midwest region, South Dakota has the largest percentage of residents living in a rural area at just over 42%. Rural areas have their own unique set of challenges when it comes to health care and especially in mental health care, due to an existing national shortage of providers. Provider shortages lead to long wait times and with individuals in need often going without treatment. At innovaTel, we believe that this is where telepsychiatry comes in. Telepsychiatry allows community mental health care centers to grow their clinical teams without the barriers of distance and limitations of local resources.

Mental Health Statistics for South Dakota

According to Mental Health America, South Dakota ranks 24 overall in access to care and prevalence of mental illness. This ranking is based on 15 different measures including data on adults, children, and behavioral health workforce availability. An overall ranking 1-13 indicates a lower prevalence of mental illness and higher rates of access to care. Rankings 39-51 indicate a higher overall prevalence of mental illness and lower rates of access to care. With South Dakota’s ranking right in the middle of the two brackets, this suggests that there is an average prevalence of mental illness and average rates of access to care with the potential to improve with continued action.

To further break down the state of mental health in South Dakota, it is important to look at health professional shortage areas. In South Dakota, there are 71 mental health care HPSA designations and the state would need an additional 35 practitioners to remove this designation. However, bringing in additional practitioners can be very difficult, especially when all available local resources have been tapped. Telepsychiatry is incredibly useful in circumstances such as these because incorporating virtual clinicians at existing community care centers allows them to grow their teams seamlessly, opening up schedules to further serve their community. Thankfully, the state of South Dakota appears open to expanding telehealth to address issues in rural health, especially after the eye-opening effects COVID-19 has had on the healthcare field.

South Dakota Telepsychiatry Laws & Regulations

Understanding state laws and regulations is essential when starting a telepsychiatry program. No two states are alike and in the current climate, laws are changing rapidly. A resource we recommend for staying up to date is the Center for Connected Health Policy’s website.

South Dakota Medicaid

South Dakota Medicaid will reimburse for certain telemedicine services as long as they are conducted via live video. The maximum reimbursement for telehealth services is the amount that would be reimbursed if the service was conducted in-person. In order to be eligible for reimbursement, providers must comply with any prior authorization requirements. Additionally, services provided via telehealth are subject to the same requirements and limitations as in-person services. Psychotherapy is included in the reimbursable services, for complete details on eligible mental health clinicians and services see the South Dakota Medicaid Billing and Policy Manual for independent mental health practitioners.

Private Payer & Parity Laws

Many states have parity laws that prevent private payers from excluding certain services from their coverage. In South Dakota, health insurers are prohibited from excluding coverage just because a service was provided via telehealth. As long as accepted services provided via telehealth are in accordance with applicable law and healthcare guidelines, insurers cannot exclude coverage.

Benefits of Telepsychiatry

For organizations looking to expand their clinical team, finding additional clinicians in your area can be a time-consuming process. With telepsychiatry, mental health centers can bring new clinicians on quickly, as well as have more access to specialized clinicians that may not otherwise be readily available in that area. This is especially helpful in rural areas where the workforce is limited.

Time Efficient

One of the most notable success factors that has been identified in telepsychiatry is the ability to effectively address the barrier of time efficiency. Clinicians can use their time more effectively by cutting out time that would be spent on a commute and use that time to see more patients. A commute or practicing in an office can also cause barriers with clinicians who are also working parents that require more flexibility to care for their children. A virtual connection saves the clinician time that can be reallocated to their workday, focusing on patient care.

Distance is no Longer a Barrier

Access to mental health care is a challenge that communities all over the country are facing. However, access to care can be especially difficult in rural communities where patients may not be able to travel to the nearest available clinician. 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. In 2019, an estimated population of 449,416 people were living in rural South Dakota. With states where a large percentage of the population lives in a rural area, distance is a big factor in access to care, and removing this barrier to care is essential for improving the health of those communities.

Implementing Telepsychiatry in South Dakota

Growing your clinical staff can be easy and efficient when you partner with an experienced telepsychiatry company like innovaTel. innovaTel partners with community mental health centers to increase access to care in areas like South Dakota. innovaTel handles all recruitment, only presenting your facility with qualified clinicians to choose from. This partnership will help your organization navigate state laws, licensing, and compliance.

South Dakota Telepsychiatry Services from innovaTel

If your South Dakota mental health facility is interested in establishing a telepsychiatry program, we encourage you to contact one of our experts today. innovaTel was founded in 2014 to address the shortage of psychiatric clinicians. Our nationwide network includes psychiatrists, psychiatric nurse practitioners, and licensed clinical social workers with the mission to improve timely access to care by partnering with community mental health centers.


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