How to Select a Virtual Platform for Your Mental Health Practice

Just as customers drive demand for goods in the marketplace, clients drive the demand for services when it comes to mental health treatment options. One service option clients are demanding at an increasing rate is the ability to connect virtually with their provider from a distance via a video session. So ready or not, the time is now for you to select a video-teleconferencing platform for your practice. But before you commit to a particular solution, there are a variety of factors you need to evaluate.

Most importantly, select a platform using your clinical knowledge and business expertise. Is the technology platform HIPAA and HiTech compliant? Will the platform provider sign a Business Associates Agreement (BAA) with you? This is very important because it means the technology is designed to handle Protected Health Information (PHI) in a secure manner. In addition, the BAA is a must, as the BAA contractually binds the technology vendor to comply with the required Federal regulations for tele-mental health, holding them liable for non-compliance, not you!

Other factors to consider include: does the technology work with you and your clients’ devices, will you be able to connect successfully? What is the contractual arrangement and cost with the vendor? Will you be an employee or contractor of the vendor, or will you simply be a customer licensing the technology for use in your own practice? This has many implications, including payment for your services and professional liability. What are the terms of the membership/contract – month to month or annual contract – and is there an exit clause if you are not satisfied with the service or your needs change?

Careful consideration of the technology you incorporate into your practice is essential, just as you carefully evaluate any treatment tool you utilize. The most important value is to “do no harm” by using your sound clinical skills, following professional ethics and guidelines along with obeying State and Federal laws. This is true whether you are working face to face or providing treatment from a distance!

Written By: Martha Ireland PhD, RN,CS,CEDS, DCC and Co-Founder of Virtual Therapy Connect