Dr Smith works in the Oxford Precision Psychiatry Lab (PPL), an international multidisciplinary group of researchers, clinicians (both psychiatrists and psychologists), statisticians, methodologists, and students with the aim to improve current treatment practice in the NHS and across the world, using innovative approaches from AI and machine learning, to digital mental health and bioethics.
Their work is funded by the National Institute for Health Research, by the Oxford Health Biomedical Research Centre and by the Oxford and Thames Valley Applied Research Collaboration.
COVID-19 presents unique challenges in mental health care provision and telepsychiatry can provide an alternative to face-to-face assessment, while also being used creatively with other technologies to enhance care. However, clinicians and patients may feel underconfident about embracing this new way of working.
Providing easily accessible and reliable guidance is a first step, and our evidence-based summaries aim to provide this. However, there will also need to be a cultural shift as well, as clinicians gain confidence and training and start to view telepsychiatry not just as a replacement, but also as a parallel and complimentary way of delivering therapy.
Using an evidence-based approach we have provided an open access, easy-to-consult and reliable source of information and guidance on a range of mental health topics related to COVID-19, including a specific resource on telepsychiatry and digital mental health. This resource meets the urgent need for practical information for both clinicians and health care organisations who are rapidly implementing remote consultation. - Dr Katharine Smith, Department of Psychiatry, University of Oxford.
Dr Smith continues, 'It reflects variations across countries and can be used as basis for organisational change in the short and longer term.
'A combination or hybrid approach (combining telepsychiatry with in-person meetings and/or use of other digital technologies) may be the most successful in the new world of mental health post-COVID-19. Going forward, clinicians will need to gain confidence and competence in using all types of media, and combining them in their consultations.'
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For more information about Oxford Precision Psychiatry Lab.