Telepsychiatry improves time to care plus frequency of care for behavioral health patients: study

A study published in the Journal of Rural Mental Health of the American Psychological Association (abstract) studied the usage of hybrid psychiatric care–a combination of telepsychiatry and in-person care–among rural dwelling patients. Their findings were quite positive:

  • Hybrid care reduced time to in-person care by 30 percent in the intervention group versus the control group of in-person care only
  • Two-thirds of those receiving hybrid care had an outpatient telepsychiatry encounter per month, as opposed to 50.3 percent among the control group
  • The intervention group used telepsychiatry for over a quarter of their visits

Emergency department visits, antipsychotic medication adherence and readmission rates were similar among both groups.

The retrospective analysis of 242 patients (outpatient visit + 11 months) studied adult Medicaid patients in Missouri who had received a telepsychiatry visit following a hospitalization or emergency department visit resulting from substance use disorder or a behavioral health episode. 

Rural America is considered to be highly underserved in mental health, with many barriers to follow-up care after an inpatient admission or an ER/ED visit. As the authors of the study stated, ‘the current study suggests that offering telepsychiatry can help close the gap in access to mental health care between rural and urban populations, particularly during the time after an inpatient admission or an emergency department visit. As telepsychiatry service options continue to grow, making this delivery mode available to rural populations may have a positive impact on mental health outcomes in the United States.’ The Mobihealthnews article attributed the telepsychiatry system to Genoa Healthcare.

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