Ketamine Telehealth – An Affordable Option, Legal Status & More
Ketamine telehealth, like in-clinic ketamine therapy, is gaining popularity around the United States. As many around the country struggle with mental issues like anxiety, depression, and PTSD, among others, there remains an appetite for alternative treatment methods.
Prior to participating in a virtual ketamine experience, there are legal requirements that must first be met. However, once a physician deems a client qualified for treatment, the therapy can be completed in the comfort of one’s home.
To help better understand ketamine telehealth, this guide answers common questions about the service, like the following:
- What is ketamine telehealth
- Where ketamine telehealth is legal
- How ketamine telehealth works
- The safety of ketamine telehealth
Contents of this article
Ketamine Telehealth – Some Of Our Favorite Service Providers Across The U.S.
- Mindbloom – Mindbloom is one of the leaders in at-home ketamine therapy, focusing on treating both anxiety and depression. By offering a combination of science-backed medicine with clinician and guide support, Mindbloom’s at-home model aims to address the mental health crisis through an affordable, comfortable, and fast-acting emerging treatment option.
- Nue Life – Utilizing Nue Life’s oral in-home ketamine treatments, clients can experience fast relief for symptoms related to anxiety and depression. In fact, studies show 90 percent of patients see positive results. With a team of dedicated physicians, nurses, and support professionals, Nue Life is transforming at-home care that identifies (and tackles) the root cause of trauma.
- KetaMD (Currently only for Florida residents) – Led by some of the world’s most prominent experts in the field of mental health and psychedelics, KetaMD provides safe and effective at-home medical ketamine treatments. The company’s mission focuses on providing safe, accessible and effective at-home ketamine therapy, with each client receiving personalized care from by licensed clinicians and nurses. Each program is developed with the highest standard of care to ensure safety and positive results.
What Is Ketamine Telehealth?
Unlike traditional ketamine clinics, ketamine telehealth allows patients to receive treatment for mental health issues and chronic pain in the comfort of their own home. The entire ketamine experience is both viewed and guided by an experienced therapist, with sessions completed via computer — similar to a Zoom call.
Following a comprehensive assessment with a physician, approved patients are prescribed a sublingual ketamine dosage. During a ketamine session — which is scheduled with and guided by a physician — the ketamine lozenge is placed between the teeth and gums to dissolve.
The practice increased during the COVID-19 pandemic, with the public health emergency allowing for more virtual treatment.
How Does It Work?
To ensure the process is both seamless, convenient and beneficial, both the client and clinic should go through a handful of steps.
- Discover the ketamine telehealth clinic that’s right for you! This means discussing options with different clinicians, taking online assessments, and identifying what issues you’re looking to address in your experience.
- If you qualify for treatment, your telehealth clinic will ship a treatment kit directly to your door. The kit includes your ketamine (sublingual lozenges, Spravato nasal spray, or pills). As well as an intention journal, a face mask, and a blood pressure monitor.
- Now that you’ve received the necessary materials, you’ll be matched with a Guide. Your Guide’s sole purpose is to assist you through the entire ketamine experience. Guides help you prepare for a safe and effective journey by answering additional questions and leading each session. Additionally, they help with the integration process.
- It’s time to prepare for your first session. This requires a computer monitor for your Guide to supervise the session. And you should choose a comfortable setting (like a couch or your bed). As well as selecting a trusted friend or family member to monitor you during the experience.
- During a ketamine telehealth session, your Guide uses a carefully planned program to get the most out of your experience. This helps identify your set and setting, helping you stay comfortable during the journey.
- So, how long does an at-home ketamine treatment last? Medicine typically takes 10-15 minutes to kick in, with the peak occurring 30-45 minutes after taking. Overall, we suggest planning for 1-2 hours.
- Following each session, Guides are available for integration — a key component of any psychedelic experience. This is a time to reflect on the experience, and help turn your intentions into lasting change.
The Benefits of Telehealth – Cost
In addition to the flexibility of receiving treatment within your own home, ketamine telehealth services are typically 40% cheaper than in-clinic services.
As an example:
In clinic ketamine services can range between $300-$700 per treatment. And many of those offer little to no post-treatment care or integration services.
A 2021 study published in the Journal of Affective Disorders concluded that at-home, sublingual ketamine telehealth is a safe and effective treatment. This is specifically true for the treatment of moderate to severe anxiety and depression.
According to the study results, 62.8 percent of depressed patients and 62.9 percent of anxious patients experienced rapid, significant, and persisting improvements in their symptoms. Additionally, only 4.7 percent of patients noted side effects.
These included the following:
- Elevated heart rate
- Worsening depression symptoms
- Urinary pressure
Additionally, Dr. Leonardo Vando — Mindbloom’s Medical Director, and a board-certified psychiatrist and addiction psychiatrist with over 15 years of experience — says the following about overall safety:
Mindbloom’s telehealth ketamine therapy programs have been demonstrated to be safe and effective for patients suffering from anxiety or depression. In a recent study in the Journal of Affective Disorders, which studied outcomes data from 1,247 Mindbloom clients, fewer than 5% of clients experienced side effects, and most of those were minor and short-lived. When compared to similar studies of legacy antidepressants like SSRIs, where around half of patients have been shown to have some form of side effect, it’s clear that at-home ketamine therapy can be a very safe treatment option.
Given the overall results and limited side effects, authors of the study concluded that ketamine telehealth “has an exceedingly desirable safety profile.”
Legal Status Of Ketamine Telehealth
The legal status of ketamine telehealth remains complicated, with virtual ketamine therapy still a relatively new development. That said, operating a virtual ketamine clinic comes with a slew of statutes and regulations. Many of which in-person clinics must also abide by.
According to Law360’s article “Compliance Considerations For Virtual Ketamine Clinics”, the most critical law for ketamine telehealth clinics is the Ryan Haight Online Pharmacy Consumer Protection Act. [Also known as the Controlled Substances Act].
This law states the following steps a virtual clinic must complete.
- Practitioners must meet a potential patient in-person prior to prescribing any controlled substance.
- Any prescription must be for a legitimate medical purpose
- The practitioner’s practice follows its usual course when administering the prescription
To better understand the legalities of ketamine telehealth, Anj Ahearn, General Counsel of Nue Life Health, adds the following:
Notwithstanding the Public Health Emergency and current waiver of the Ryan Haight Act, establishing a valid patient-physician relationship is a foundational requirement for prescribing any kind of medication to patients, including ketamine. Depending on the state, different modalities may be required to establish a patient-physician relationship. In addition, certain states may require that a physical encounter have taken place within a certain time frame before any controlled substances are prescribed.
Additional state requirements may take effect as well — such as certain technology specifications, proving a physician-patient relationship exists. Finally, all practitioners must be licensed in the state in which a patient will be receiving treatment.
Ketamine telehealth requirements vary by state, so it’s important to understand your location’s rules prior to exploring the treatment possibility.
Ketamine Telehealth – FAQs
Accessibly. Unlike traditional in-person clinics, ketamine telehealth allows patients to receive therapy from the comfort of their homes. Additionally, the virtual option allows for a guided session, which not all ketamine clinics offer.
Patients must remember the required laws during ketamine sessions — namely, that they reside in the state the ketamine session is taking place.
According to studies, ketamine telehealth is most effective treating depression and anxiety, as well as chronic pain.
Although many U.S. insurance companies do not cover ketamine therapy, there are several major providers that do offer options to patients.
According to a 2021 Benzinga article, Blue Cross Blue Shield, the University of Utah, PEHP Health & Benefits, and MBA Benefit Administrators offer billing for IV ketamine for treatment-resistant depression (TRD). However, for ketamine telehealth, options vary, with many insurance companies requiring a superbill that details the aspects of each at-home treatment.
It’s important to check with your insurance provider to see if they offer any type of coverage. In some cases, submitting a claim for either full or partial reimbursement will gain approval from your insurance provider.