OCD Treatment Works Just As Well Via Video Call: Is It Time for Comprehensive Virtual Healthcare?

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comprehensive virtual healthcare

How would you ever get through all the demands of your day when you have to return home four times every morning to make sure the door is locked? How would you ever maintain a social life when you have to do the same every night with the office door?

Such is the constant strain on the lives of people suffering from Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, or OCD. Those obsessive rituals of constant doubt are driven by a deep underlying fear of loss of control and a distrust of one’s self.

They can, however, be kept under control, at least to some extent, with the help of a range of specialist services. What’s more, these services are now available online through video conferencing, which opens up such treatments to people living in remote and isolated communities.

That makes OCD one of a growing number of mental and physical disorders that can be treated online. In fact, there are enough new video calling experts now available to warrant the construction of an entire virtual one-stop clinic for people unable to get to these services by distance or disability.

Online Treatment for OCD

It takes intensive treatment to counter or control the whole-of-life effects of OCD. The disorder can rob a person of hours each day, and places severe strain on their professional and personal relationships, not to mention their state of mind.

Treatments range from cognitive behavior therapy and exposure and response prevention, to psychiatric medications and antidepressants. A new study published in The Journal of the American Medical Association has found these treatments can be as effectively delivered through video conference as they can in person.

The University of Florida has already adopted the virtual approach to treat patients across the state, although legal restrictions prevent its physicians from rolling out the service nationwide.

Still, this method spares patients car trips of 4 to 8 hours across the state, and equips smaller general practice clinics with a way to offer local sufferers with expert support by tapping into direct video calls to the University. The University of Florida’s model is being repeated across the country with a number of distinct ailments.

The Rise of the Video Calling Virtual Specialist

The availability of video calling on smartphones has fuelled an explosion of alternatives to in-person doctor’s visits. In the past two years alone the number of medical and healthcare apps has soared to more than 165,000. While 40% of those apps have largely failed, having fewer than 5000 downloads, there’s a clear trend toward e-health.

The American public has embraced the concept of the virtual doctor, and real progress for online treatments and viable remote medicine has come from intensive clinical developments. Recent research has thrown support behind online treatments for a number of disorders across a number of fields, including:

And that’s far from an exhaustive list. Most notably, it doesn’t include all the smartphone apps that let users consult directly with general practitioners about minor ailments and seasonal maladies.

All this new technology is obviously leading toward a culture of online healthcare. So why not start thinking about how they can be better combined and presented to provide easy access to virtual clinics offering a multitude of treatments and specialists?

Online Super Health Clinics

All those online treatments mentioned above already exist. They’re being used right now by people who have difficulty accessing specialized care. The only tech left to conceive is gathering them effectively together in one place.

There seem to be two ways of granting patient access: indirectly through a local physician, or directly through an online portal. Both cases require the establishment of a central hub of services, each linked into a shared warehouse of patient information. It doesn’t need to be more complicated than the model used by travel sites like Airbnb or Kayak, which gather a multitude of available resources in one spot.

With that in place, the OCD sufferer can either make an initial inquiry with their local doctor and be referred on to someone like the University of Florida team, or they could log on directly from their personal device and contact the university doctors themselves.

Making all these online treatments and physicians available in a single place eases the transfer of patient records, and establishes one complete resource for all the care a patient and their family could need.

The research mentioned above has proved the treatment is just as effective online, and virtual doctor visits also make it easier to hold follow-up sessions, and even regular house calls. Being able to avoid new external stimuli is a big deal for OCD sufferers, and video calling is perfectly designed to do just that, and to bring experts in to help, too.

Image Source: Flickr CC User Rachel Olmanson

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