Demand for Telepsychology Jobs Increasing
Telehealth usage has surged in recent years, even prior to the COVID-19 global health emergency. But when the pandemic shut down the majority of non-essential businesses, which included some medical offices, the demand for telehealth exploded. Patients in need of therapy or counseling had to adapt to a new reality, including virtual psychology visits.
In fact, behavioral healthcare saw the biggest increase in telehealth usage, with virtual visits comprising one-third of total visits of Medicare beneficiaries to behavioral health specialists in 2020, according to a recent U.S. Department of Health & Human Services (HHS) report.
The report noted that Medicare telehealth visits overall increased 63-fold in one year, from 840,000 in 2019 to 52.7 million by the end of 2020. During the height of the pandemic, Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) and other organizations approved waivers and other regulations to expand the use of telehealth services, and in November 2021, the agency announced that it will pay for mental health telehealth visits conducted by rural health clinics and Federally Qualified Health Centers outside of the public health emergency.
This unprecedented decision directly translates into thousands more people getting direct access to telepsychology visits and other telehealth services, leading to more opportunities for the providers who want to work from home and conduct virtual therapy and counseling sessions.
Beyond the Pandemic: What’s Driving Growth in Telepsychology
With advances in technology and the steep increase in demand for mental healthcare, the practice of providing psychological or therapeutic services through telephonic or video calls has greatly increased,”
explained Henry Junkert, director of recruiting at Staff Care, a leading locum tenens staffing agency.
“One of the driving factors for the increase in demand is convenience. Both psychologists and those in their care are drawn to the ease of access and convenience of telehealth,” he continued. “Although COVID-19 might have put telepsychology in the limelight, telepsychology has firmly established itself as a legitimate and effective method for delivering care regardless of pandemic conditions.”
The 2021 trends report released by the American Psychological Association (APA) proclaims that “Online therapy is here to stay,” and many studies have already proven the success of teletherapy.
In the past, many people avoided seeking access to a psychologist or other mental health provider for fear of being seen in the office or having to share their feelings face to face. The virtual aspect of telehealth—either in person or over the phone—has allowed many patients to feel more comfortable and actively seek out virtual care.
Working As A Telepsychologist
So, how does it work? What should providers know about telehealth psychology jobs?
Telepsychologists can expect an average day to consist of five to six patient appointments, Junkert said. “The balance of their day can be spent planning for patient care, completing charting, and managing other administrative duties.”
One thing consistent with virtual psychology visits is that there has been a paradigm shift in the patient–psychologist relationship. Take it from Junkert: “Expect the unexpected! One of the challenges with telepsychology is the predictability of the therapeutic environment cannot be guaranteed. When there is not a physical office setting, patients may take their appointment in a wide variety of environments that may pose a wide variety of new challenges.”
Providers who excel in telepsychology are flexible, adaptable, and able to stay focused on their patients even when distractions may be incessant.
In addition to navigating complex environments for virtual visits and staying vigilant about online privacy and security, it is important to understand how you are reimbursed as a telepsychologist, Junkert added.
“Some employment models are ‘paid per appointment’ while others are more of a traditional salary/fixed compensation rate. Each model has advantages and disadvantages, so it is important to fully understand how a prospective telepsychology position pays their providers,” he noted.
Finding Locum Telepsychology Jobs
Are you looking for a locum psychologist opportunity that allows you to work via telehealth, in-person visits, or perhaps both? Staff Care can place you in the ideal part-time or full-time assignment.