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Office of Mental Health

Telepsychiatry Services

Telepsychiatry can be beneficial to a mental health care delivery system, when on-site services are not available or would be delayed because of distance, location, time of day, or availability of resources. Benefits include improved access to care, provision of care locally in a timely fashion, improved continuity of care, improved treatment compliance and coordination of care.

“Telepsychiatry” is defined as the use of two-way real time-interactive audio and video equipment to provide and support clinical psychiatric care at a distance. Such services do not include a telephone conversation, electronic mail message or facsimile transmission between a licensed OMH program and a recipient, or a consultation between two professional or clinical staff.

Effective February 11, 2015, OMH established the basic standards and parameters for use of “telepsychiatry” in OMH-licensed clinic programs. Adopted as a new Section 599.17 to 14 NYCRR Part 599, “Clinic Treatment Services”, this new regulation allowed telepsychiatry to be utilized for assessment and treatment services provided by physicians or psychiatric nurse practitioners, from a site distant from the location of a recipient, where both the patient and the physician or nurse practitioner were physically located at clinic sites licensed by OMH.

Effective August 31, 2016, OMH repealed Part 599.17 and adopted a new Part 596 which expands the use of telepsychiatry beyond licensed Article 31 outpatient clinic settings. The expansion allows for the use of telepsychiatry between any OMH licensed setting and any NYS Medicaid enrolled setting, if the patient is in the OMH Article 31 site. Current exclusions include: ACT or PROS programs, use for medication over objection, restraint and seclusion ordering, and Article 9 commitments.

In addition to the expanded regulation, OMH has revised the Telepsychiatry Guidance document to provide direction to New York State providers that are currently licensed by OMH to perform treatment services, and who wish to offer telepsychiatry to the persons they serve. This document describes the implications for OMH operating certificates (i.e., how to add telepsychiatry as an optional/additional service, as well as the inspection process), clinical guidance, training resources, billing guidelines, and technology and telecommunication standards.

OMH has published the Technical Guidelines Checklist for Local Providers to ensure plans developed are consistent with OMH Technical Specifications with respect to videoconferencing. National organizations, such as the American Telemedicine Association (ATA), have developed practice guidelines and practice parameters. OMH advises programs seeking approval to utilize telepsychiatry services to review these guidelines and incorporate relevant provisions in their plans, consistent with their target population.

Telepsychiatry Guidance for Local Providers

Part 596 Telepsychiatry Regulations

Telepsychiatry Guidance for Contracting with Telepsychiatry/Telemedicine Companies

Comments or questions about the information on this page can be directed to the Bureau of Inspection and Certification