mead cohen berger shevtsova garfinkle michta grygiel blankenhorn
Telehealth Makes Every Home a Hospital


The shrink’s couch has now moved to your living room. Researchers at the University of Zurich have found that online psychotherapy is as good as or even more successful than in-person psychotherapy at reducing symptoms like depression. Kurzweil News:

“In both groups, the depression values fell significantly,” says Professor Andreas Maercker, summing up the results of the study. At the end of the treatment, no more depression could be diagnosed in 53 percent of the patients who underwent online therapy—compared to 50 percent for face-to-face therapy.

This study shows that across at least one dimension of mental health care, e-visits can do everything in-person visits can do. Though it doesn’t translate directly, this study points to the growing consensus that much of the basic health care traditionally offered in face-to-face settings can know be done virtually. At Co.Exist Dr. Nick Van Terheyden argues that, in the near future we will see a massive shift away from hospital-based care to decentralized, consumer-controlled distribution of services. He highlights in particular a telehealth platform called

Data also shows that the largest volume of readmissions occurs among patients with chronic disease and more than 75% of health care costs are in fact attributed to chronic illness. helps address these systemic issues by enabling patients to manage their chronic diseases through a telehealth platform offering access to home-based behavior and medication services and consultation. The telehealth market, which is slated to impact 1.8 million patients worldwide by 2017, compared to 308,000 today, offers a glimpse into what the most profitable hospitals of the future might look like–empty.

One common rejoinder to arguments for more telehealth and e-vists is that they can’t provide the same quality of service or health outcomes as in-person visits. Psychotherapy is obviously different from physical care; the former mostly involves probing the patient’s mind. But nevertheless the Zurich study suggests that routine and straightforward health diagnoses could be competently made with advanced telehealth technology. Given the enormous benefits of decentralized, consumer-controlled care, the sooner we move towards telehealth, the better.

[Hospital technology image courtesy of Shutterstock]

Features Icon
show comments
  • USNK2

    Mr. Mead: send this as a memo to the US Congress who stopped Medicare coverage for telephone mental health consults three or four years ago. Just one of the stupid ‘reforms’ to America’s ‘health care’

    • Corlyss

      What was the excuse for discontinuing it?

      • USNK2

        as if anyone would tell the truth!

        But, Medicare’s decision to stop covering telephone consults with mental health providers came just after whatever organization mental health providers belong to successfully lobbied for a higher % for Medicare reimbursement.
        I guess whoever runs Medicare decided that seniors/disabled must be well enough to drive to deserve mental health benefits. (sarcasm intended)

        As I recall, Medicare cut the number of visits to physical therapists starting in 2006, regardless of the condition requiring physical therapy, which seemed counter-productive to me. In December, 2005, I was just finishing a very successful twice a week, six month, rehab for a torn up knee that meant no need for knee surgery, which would have been far more expensive, requiring even more physical therapy.

        Just trying to bring Mr. Mead back to reality from his irrational exuberance over ‘telehealth’.

        Perhaps he will remember his posts on the mysterious rise in senior suicides…

        • Corlyss

          Thanks for the info.

  • Nick M.

    In our new era of nearly everything being online, it comes as no surprise to me that people are reacting more favorably to “tele-therapy”. Some people have issues with physically going due to fear (whether rational or irrational) of judgmental looks and gossip. If the person on the other line has any sort of empathy and willingness to listen, it can be a good start to helping those who feel so isolated that they can’t even bring themselves to go see someone face to face.

© The American Interest LLC 2005-2016 About Us Masthead Submissions Advertise Customer Service