Telehealth is a virtual, outpatient behavioral health clinic that utilizes videoconferencing technology to provide evidence-based care. Telehealth is funded through a variety of sources, including fee-for-service reimbursements, philanthropy, and agency contracts. Since launching in 2012, the clinic has served over 2,000 clients and provided nearly 20,000 sessions.
“Telemental Health Services”
Telehealth provides clients with live, “face-to-face” tele-behavioral health services in both English and Spanish, where both the provider and client connect from separate locations via a computer, laptop, tablet, or smartphone.
Telehealth provides care to a broad range of clients representing diverse demographic backgrounds and motivations for seeking therapy. Examples of client populations served include:
- Middle school, high school, college, and graduate students enrolled at USC and elsewhere
- Parents of children with special needs
- Survivors of intimate partner violence, sexual assault, and human trafficking
- Transitional age youth involved with the public child welfare system
- Active duty military, veterans, and their families
Telehealth serves clients presenting with both mild to moderate psychosocial problems that occur in everyday life. Clients’ most common presenting problems involve school or work-related challenges that include depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress, loss or separation from a loved one and co-occurring/substance use disorders.
USC uses a state of the art videoconferencing platform that meets all federal security guidelines for privacy and encryption. It is HIPAA compliant. For clients and providers, Telehealth’s technology is easy to use. All that’s needed is access to a computer, tablet or smartphone less than 5 years old with a web camera, mic and speakers, and a reliable Internet connection.
Telehealth clients can join their virtual sessions at home (or other private locations) using their personal technology … or in offices in schools or agencies designated as “tele-suites”. Tele-suites are provided by community-based agency partners who dedicate offices that protect the client’s privacy - “with 4 walls and a door that closes” that enable clients to use the agency’s technology, Internet connectivity, and private room to participate in services.
Telehealth’s clients are referred from numerous sources, including important partnerships with county departments of mental/behavioral health and social services, family resource centers, schools, health clinics, and regional centers across California. Current county partner programs include:
- Los Angeles County Department of Mental Health
- Telehealth provides prevention & early intervention tele-mental health services to youth ages 12 to 21 who have experienced or are at risk of trauma due to interpersonal or community violence. The program is funded by MHSA/PEI $’s and provides iPads to families, as needed.
- Monterey County Behavioral Health
- Telehealth provides individual tele-behavioral health care using “tele-suites” in county offices located in unserved or underserved communities. The program has broad target populations and is funded through Medi-Cal.
USC Suzanne Dworak-Peck School of Social Work tenured and tenure-line faculty have acquired financial support for pilot research on tele-mental health intervention with specific populations since 2015.
- Parents as Teachers National Center
- Dr. Dorian Traube has collaborated with Parents as Teachers National Center in St. Louis, Missouri to study parents’ participation in an empirically supported home visiting/parent education program delivered completely via videoconference.
- Skid Row Housing Trust
- Dr. Benjamin Henwood has collaborated with Skid Row Housing Trust in Los Angeles to study engagement and outcomes associated with participation in tele-mental health services by adult residents in permanent supportive housing.
Telehealth utilizes a sophisticated electronic health records (EHR) system for its client services … and benefits from significant oversight by USC faculty committees focused on credentialing, professional standards, research, and program evaluation. The USC Office of Compliance also is involved in the clinic’s development and ongoing operations.