Doctor on Demand expands telehealth services to include psychiatry

Platform, which recently signed up its 400th corporate customer, seeks to combat limited access to care, shortage of psychiatrists.
By Jessica Davis
01:34 PM
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Doctor on Demand's telemedicine platform connects patients with care providers.

Doctor on Demand has expanded its telemedicine platform to include board-certified psychiatrists, the company announced on Tuesday.

In December 2014, Doctor on Demand began offering mental health services with the addition of psychologists to its provider network. Extending the network to include psychiatrists will complete the mental health cycle, from therapy to medicine, officials said.

"Mental health is a vital area, where there may be the most need for telemedicine," said Donovan Wong, MD, medical director of behavioral health at Doctor on Demand.

[Also: Telehealth's biggest roadblock: physician reimbursement]

"There's really a lack of access to care," he said. "Rural areas have the worst access, but even in big cities, like Los Angeles, the wait time is up to five weeks or more for 80 percent of the population. That's really our mission: increasing high quality care. With mental health, that's really what we'd like to do."

Doctor on Demand's telemedicine platform connects patients with care providers. It started in 2012, with board-certified physicians, later expanding to offer consults with lactation consultants and psychologists.

More than 300 mental health professionals can be found on the network in 27 states, including licensed psychologists and board-certified psychiatrists. The company plans to expand the services nationwide by mid-year.

Currently, many patients pay out-of-pocket, but Wong said Doctor on Demand hopes to change that in the near future.

The platform has partnered with dozens of employers and health plans, such as United Healthcare, providing 45 million Americans access. Last month, the company announced it signed its 400th corporate customer.

“Many Americans don’t have access to mental health treatment, and for those that do, long wait times, distance, cost and stigma are still barriers to getting care.” Wong said in a statement. "These are all challenges telemedicine can address."

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A 2013 National Survey on Drug Use and Health estimated one in five adults aged 18 or older had a mental illness, but only 45 percent of these affected parties received treatment.

Furthermore, 55 percent of the nation's 3,100 counties have no practicing mental health workers and the average wait time to see a psychiatrist is two months in some cities and eight months in rural counties.

"Too many people don’t know where to turn for mental health care, so they get overpriced care, the wrong care, or no care at all," said Adam Jackson, co-founder and CEO of Doctor on Demand, in a statement. "By adding psychiatrists, we're striving to meet our mission of increasing access to high-quality care.”

Twitter: @JessiefDavis