Top Telepsychiatry Studies

Telepsychiatry has been proven to be an effective medium of care for essentially all populations and within all care settings.  There is a growing body of evidence that supports telepsychiatry as an effective delivery method for mental health services.  Research has found telepsychiatry to be equivalent to in-person care in terms of effectiveness, quality of care and patient satisfaction.  Below is a curated list of some of the top telepsychiatry studies that have been conducted in recent years.

Efficacy of Telepsychiatry

The Empirical Evidence for Telemedicine Interventions in Mental Disorders

Rashid L. Bashshur, Gary W. Shannon, Noura Bashshur, Peter M. Yellowlees
Telemedicine and e-Health, Vol. 22 (2), 27 January 2016

This article is aimed at assessing the state of scientific knowledge regarding the merit of telemedicine interventions in the treatment of mental health disorders in terms of feasibility/acceptance, effects on medication compliance, health outcomes and cost. Researchers reviewed relevant studies that met strict eligibility requirements and rigorous methodological criteria. They determined that scientific literature on treatment of mental health reveals strong and consistent evidence of the feasibility of this model of care and acceptance by users, in addition to improvement in symptoms and quality of life among individuals across a broad range of demographic and diagnostic groups. There were also positive trends shown in terms of cost savings.

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Telepsychiatry: Effectiveness and Feasibility

Gajari, A; Conn D; Madan R
Smart Homecare Technology and Telehealth, Vol. 3, April 2015

This narrative review was performed to consider the evidence that telepsychiatry is feasible and effective across a variety of patient populations and clinical settings. They found that telepsychiatry is feasible to implement, effective across multiple age groups and clinical settings and is generally well accepted by patients and clinicians. They specifically review guidelines/frameworks, assessment of psychiatric illness, treatment using telepsychiatry, providing psychotherapy via videoconferencing, telepsychiatry for acute care and emergency consultations, feasibility/barriers/cost-effectiveness, telepsychiatry for special populations, and emerging approaches and technologies.

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Review of Key Telepsychiatry Outcomes

Sam Hubley, Sarah B Lynch, Christopher Schneck, Marshall Thomas, Jay Shore
World Journal of Psychiatry, Vol. 6 (2), June 2016

This literature of telepsychiatry articles looked for data on satisfaction, reliability, treatment outcomes, implementation outcomes, cost effectiveness and legal issues relating to telepsychiatry. They found that patients and providers are generally satisfied with telepsychiatry services. Evidence suggested that telepsychiatry performed as well as, if not better than, in-person services and was not found to be more expensive than in-person treatment. They did not find any legal issues. This large evidence base supports telepsychiatry as a delivery method for mental health services.

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Outcomes of 98,609 U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Patients Enrolled in Telemental Health Services, 2006-2010

Linda Godleski, MD; Adam Darkins, MD, MPH; John Peters, MS
Psychiatric Services Vol. 63 (4), April 2012

This study assessed clinical outcomes of 98,609 individuals enrolled in the VA’s telemental health program between 2006 and 2010. They compared the number of inpatient psychiatric admissions and days of psychiatric hospitalizing among patients who participated in remote clinical video-conferencing during an average period of six months before and after their enrollment in telehealth services. They found that during this time, psychiatric admissions of telemental health patients decreased by an average of 24.2% and days of hospitalizing decreased by an average of 26.6%.

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Telepsychiatry in the Emergency Department

Impact of a Telepsychiatry Program at Emergency Departments Statewide on the Quality, Utilization and Costs of Mental Health Services

Meera Narasimhan, MD; Benjamin G. Druss, MD, MPH; Jason M. Hockenberry, PhD; Julia Royer, MSPH; Paul Weiss, MS; Gretl Glick, MPH; Steven C. Marcus, PhD; John Magill, MSW
Psychiatric Services, Vol. 66 (11): 1167-1172, 1 July 2015

This study estimated the impact of a statewide, centralized telepsychiatry service utilized in emergency departments between March 2009 and June 2013. Individuals treated via telepsychiatry were compared to a control group of individuals with mental health diagnoses being treated at other hospitals. They found that when compared to the control group, telepsychiatry recipients were more likely to receive a 30-day and 90-day outpatient follow-up. Telepsychiatry recipients were less likely to be admitted to the hospital during their initial ED and 30-day inpatient costs were $2336 lower for the telepsychiatry vs. control group, but total health costs were not significantly different.

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Use of Telepsychiatry in Pediatric Emergency Room to Decrease Length of Stay for Psychiatric Patients, Improve Resident On-Call Burden and Reduce Factors Related to Physician Burnout

Aaron Reliford, Blessing Adebanjo
Telemedicine and e-Health, Vol. 25 (9), 6 September 2019

Through implementation of telepsychiatry for child psychiatry patients seen in the pediatric emergency room, this study evaluated whether telepsychiatry can reduce length of stay and factors contributing to physician burnout through reduction of on-call travel burden. They reviewed data regarding child psychiatry fellow use of telepsychiatry through a real-time questionnaire filled out by the on-call clinician from July through December 2017. Telepsychiatry significantly reduced the total monthly length of stay for non-hospitalized patients during the study period compared to all prior months (285 hours down to 193 hours) and reduced travel for in-person evaluations by 75% saving 2.2 hours per call day. They conclude that telepsychiatry is effective in reducing length of stay and improving on-call burden.

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Child and Adolescent Telepsychiatry

Telepsychiatrists’ Medication Treatment Strategies in the Children’s Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder Telemental Health Study

Rockhill, CM; Tse YJ; Fesinmeyer, MD; Garcia, J; Myers, K
Journal of Child and Adolescent Psychopharmacology, Vol. 28 (8): 662-667, October 2016

The purpose of this study was to examine prescribing strategies that telepsychiatrists use to provide pharmacologic treatment in the Children’s Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) Telemental Health Treatment Study (CATTS). CATTS was a randomized controlled trial that demonstrated the use of telehealth for the treatment of ADHD with combined pharmacotherapy and behavior training compared with management in primary care augmented with a telepsychiatry consultation. Telepsychiatrists showed high fidelity (91%) in their chosen algorithms in medication management, meaning that they received the same outcomes across patients (high accuracy). At the end of the trial, the CATTS intervention showed 46% attainment of the treat-to-target goal compared to 13.6% for the augmented primary care condition. This study shows that telepsychiatry is an effective delivery method for providing pharmacotherapy for ADHD.

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Medication Assisted Treatment and Telepsychiatry

Treatment Outcome Comparison between Telepsychiatry and Face-to-Face Buprenorphine Medication-Assisted Treatment for Opioid Use Disorder: A 2-Year Retrospective Data Analysis

Wanhong Zheng, MD; Michael Nickasch, BS; Laura Lander, MSW; Sijin Wen, PhD; Michan Xiao, PhD; Patrick Marshalek, MD; Ebony Dix, MD; Carl Sullivan; MD
Journal of Addiction Medicine, Vol. 11 (2), 2017

The purpose of this study was to review clinic records to assess the difference between face-to-face (in-person) and telepsychiatry buprenorphine medication-assisted treatment (MAT) programs for the treatment of opioid use disorder based on additional substance use, average time to achieve 30 to 60 days of abstinence and treatment retention rates at 90 and 365 days. They did not find any significant statistical difference in any of the three outcomes.

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Telepsychiatry and Behavioral Health Integration

Using Telepsychiatry to Enrich Existing Primary Care

Maryann Waugh, Jacqueline Calderone, Shandra Brown Levey, Corey Lyon, Marshall Thomas, Frank DeGruy, Jay H. Shore
Telemedicine and e-Health, Vol. 25 (8), 1 August 2019

This study sought to determine whether utilizing primary care in the telepsychiatry setting can increase access, quality and efficiencies in care. Telepsychiatry was implemented into an existing integrated care model in a high-volume, urban primary care clinic in Colorado. Over 35% of the requests for psychiatry services were medication changes and this was also the most frequent referral outcome of psychiatric consultations. They determined that telehealth will become an increasingly necessary component in building integrated care teams and lessons learned includes the importance of team attitudes.

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Telepsychiatry and Corrections

Telepsychiatry and Correctional Facilities: Using Technology to Improve Access and Decrease Costs of Mental Health Care in Underserved Populations

Stacie Anne Deslich, MA, MS; Timothy Thistlethwaite, MD; Alberto Coustasse, DrPH, MD, MBA, MPH
The Permanente Journal, Vol. 17 (3): 80-86, 2013

The purpose of this literature review was to determine how utilization of telepsychiatry affected access to care and costs of providing mental health care in correctional facilities. They found that telepsychiatry provided improved access to mental health services through the continuum of mental health care. Additionally, telepsychiatry saved correctional facilities between $12,000 to over $1 million. Increasing access to mental health care in corrections with telepsychiatry can improve living conditions and safety inside correctional facilities.

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