The International Association of Eating Disorders Professionals (iaedp™) is supporting telehealth practitioners and professionals in the eating disorder field. Telehealth saw a boom during the pandemic; the concept and practice were already in place well but is now a common occurrence. Rapidly, the iaedp Board of Directors saw the need to provide guidance and training on how to implement Telehealth in what is traditionally an in-person industry, how to address practitioners’ concerns and how to share best practices across the industry.
“The Telehealth Committee has been born out of this growing need,” said iaedp Board member Vicki Berkus, MD, Ph.D., CEDS, who spearheads the committee. “Our members need support, resources, and options in this evolving landscape. From how to do remote assessments to legal and medical issues, professionals using telehealth to treat their patients enter a whole new world. That world can be fraught with challenges.”
Eating disorders, including anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, binge eating disorder, and avoidant/restrictive food intake disorder, are serious psychiatric conditions and are associated with high rates of morbidity, mortality, and personal and societal costs. Embracing telehealth practices decreases the time of intervention, increases patient accessibility, and provides a new path for care and treatment.
“We not only focus on where we are now but also where we are going and the future of remote care for these disorders,” said Dr. Berkus. “Telehealth is especially important for rural or underserved communities who may not have experienced professionals nearby or accessible.”
Continuing research provides insight into the effectiveness of telehealth treatment in eating disorders. Through committed work from groups like the iaedp Telehealth Committee, professionals and practitioners can share ideas and recommendations while also keeping abreast of evidence-based practice. Previous webinars included everything from logistics to legal advice, including HIPAA, internet speed, processing credit cards, encrypting files, dealing with insurance, EAPs, types of therapy, psychiatric evaluation, medical monitoring, how to handle emergencies, keeping patients engaged and confronting your own biases.
The focus for 2024 is to address concerns about telehealth approaches, work through technology issues, evidence-based techniques and how to apply them in a telehealth environment, how to transition a patient to telehealth, and regulatory frameworks.
The committee and other practitioners also present their research and best practices at the annual global iaedp Foundation symposium. The conference is attended by representatives from across the world and provides nearly a week’s worth of training, education and connection in multiple languages.