North Dakota doesn’t have enough psychiatrists. Telemedicine is helping to fix that

Until recently, when the North Dakota human services agency had an opening for a mental health provider, months might go by before a single application came in.

But that’s started to change as the state boosts telemedicine as an option for mental health care. The department has started allowing providers who serve patients through its health centers to live in some of the state’s bigger cities — or even move out of state — and deliver mental health care to rural areas through video calls. The University of North Dakota’s medical school has started training its psychiatry residents to treat rural patients by computer.

“Telepsychiatry really is integral to our ability to provide that equitable access to psychiatric services across the state, regardless of rural and urban environment,” said Dr. Laura Kroetsch, a psychiatrist who works as the field medical director of the human services department.

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