Frequently Asked Questions
1. Will TAO Connect, Inc. sign a business associates’ agreement with our institution?
Yes, we sign a business agreement with each institution in compliance with HIPAA and HITECH laws.
2. What is the training requirement to get clinicians ready for this?
TAO Connect, Inc. offers training to mental health providers and counseling centers adopting TAO. The seminar covers online counseling, legal, ethical, and clinical issues, risk management, using low intensity-high engagement treatment, and operation of the TAO platform.
3. Do you operate through a scheduling program? Are notes written in this system?
No, all scheduling and the electronic medical record is kept separately. TAO does include data form templates for some electronic medical records.
4. How have you coordinated the scheduling for this?
Most clinics and clinicians use their usual scheduling system for patients/clients using TAO.
5. What technology requirements are there for clients?
Students are able to use a computer, tablet or smart phone to view and complete all materials.
6. What type of technology requirements are there on the Center’s end? E.g., do we need computers with cameras? Is this done through wireless or hard-wired connections?
The technology required to deliver TAO is not much more than the usual equipment typically available in a mental health providers’ office. Each mental health provider needs a laptop or desktop computer; either Apple or PC is fine. Each mental health provider needs a camera and microphone with a reasonably good speaker. All treatment is completed either hard-wired or via wireless. The videoconferencing application is embedded in the TAO system and is included in the cost of TAO.
7. How are our clinicians trained?
Mental health providers using TAO, must receive training in online therapy, legal and ethical issues, risk management, clinical issues in low intensity-high engagement therapy, and using the TAO Platform.
8. How much time is devoted to this by your clinicians who treat with TAO?
Most clinicians using TAO provide a combination of online or face-to-face sessions using TAO and traditional psychotherapy without TAO. The number of therapy hours converted to TAO varies widely from 1-3 per week with 3-9 clients, through 12 or more hours per week.
9. How often are clients unavailable during their allotted 15 minute check-in? Do you have data on client compliance with this program?
No show and cancellation rates for online sessions are comparable to face-to-face sessions.
10. How do you identify appropriate clients?
TAO should not be used to treat anyone with active serious suicidal ideation, who has attempted to harm themselves in the past year, or who is a serious threat to harm others. Students with active, serious substance abuse and addictions may not be a good fit for TAO.
11. Do you have a specific screening process?
Screening procedures are up to you. Policies for TAO should fit seamlessly with the rest of your procedures.
12. Must clients be seen face-to-face before they are moved to this treatment modality?
No, TAO can be use in a variety of ways. Mental health providers using TAO have used it entirely on-line, with a combination of face-to-face and online sessions, entirely face-to-face or as an adjunct to group therapy. Your method ofdelivering TAO can be customized to fit the needs of your clients. Just be sure that your procedures are in compliance with state laws.
13. Particularly poor fits?
Clients or patients with severe depression, who have active suicidal rumination, who have severe anhedonia and vegetative symptoms are not appropriate for TAO. Clients who have an active co-existing substance dependence, clients who are uncomfortable with technology or who have no access to a computer, tablet, or smart phone are also inappropriate.
14. How many modules are there in your program?
There are 20 modules with more planned all the time.
15. What kind of outcome data do you use to assess progress/determine whether client symptoms are improving?
Clients or patients complete an outcome measure (the BHM-20) prior to each session. The client and mental health provider are able to view the outcome measure each week to monitor symptoms and functioning. Clients provide feedback on each session which can be reviewed on the therapist dashboard. Aggregate data on all patents from a clinic or from a therapist are also displayed in a graph on the TAO platform.
16. How effective is treatment with TAO?
Research has shown that TAO is more effective than traditional therapy delivered without using TAO. This is likely because TAO increases patient engagement.
17. How does TAO address risk?
TAO uses the BHM-20® to monitor client/patient functioning. In addition, TAO includes a customizable system for provider notification when a client scores in a range indicating risk.
18. How do you keep the client information in TAO secure?
All client information is kept in an isolated, encrypted database that is protected by firewalls and in a private network. All communication is transmitted via encrypted network protocols. Anyone using the system must be explicitly enrolled. All accounts are password protected with a complex password, obfuscated by a one-way encrypted hash.
19. How are the push notifications kept secure?
Push notifications appear on users phones as generic messages; for example, “Hi, John, hope you are having a good day.” The client must open the text message to see the reminder, which will say things like “remember to do your monitoring log today” or “remember to complete your modules for your conference this week.” Note: None of these identify the client as TAO client.
20. Where does the software system and data reside? How is it kept secure?
TAO is delivered on dedicated Amazon HIPAA and HITEC compliant infrastructure. The data is backed up redundantly in two separate data center locations and all data is kept encrypted in motion and at rest. The data is protected by antivirus software, firewalls, and regular security auditing.
21. Are the video conferences HIPAA and HITECH compliant?
Yes, the videoconferencing tool is encrypted and password protected.
22. What data is kept? How long is it kept? When is it de-identified?
We ask for a client/patient name and an e-mail address. This is for keeping records appropriately identified and to help us provide technical support. Because we use the aggregate data to train our machine learning systems, each patient’s responses and activity are de-identified but kept in the system to help TAO tools to get more effective over time.