Established protocol, safe systems needed to increase telepsychiatry use
SAN ANTONIO — A lack of protocols and HIPPA-compliant systems for telepsychiatry significantly contribute to its underutilization, according to poster data presented at the U.S. Psychiatric and Mental Health Congress
“We conducted a survey of 115 psychiatrists nationwide to try to find out a little bit more about the use of telepsychiatry in practice,” study researcher Danielle Sender, MS, of Health and Wellness Partners, told Healio.com/Psychiatry. “From the 115 psychiatrists that we surveyed, we learned that about one-third of psychiatrists are using telepsychiatry in their practice; however, 61% are not. We were interested in learning why is that? Why aren’t they using telepsychiatry in their practice?”
To identify barriers to the use of telepsychiatry, Sender and colleagues administered electronic surveys to 115 psychiatrists treating adults with mental health disorders.
Overall, 39% of participants reported they practice telepsychiatry and 61% reported they do not.
Telepsychiatry was used for a number of mental health disorders, including depression (100%), anxiety (97%), ADHD (68%), schizophrenia (66%) and bipolarmania (66%).
Telepsychiatry was most commonly used in conjunction with office (84%) and clinic visits (68%), but rarely with hospital visits (13%).
The most common reasons for not using telepsychiatry included limited opportunities to use it, lack of established protocols, poor understanding of billing/reimbursement and limited knowledge of benefits.
“I think the under-utilization of [telepsychiatry] was our biggest finding,” Sender said. “We know that with the evolution of our health care system, telepsychiatry provides a much needed service. We have a shortage of psychiatrists, a shortage of specialists and mental health care providers, and we know that access needs to be increased to mental health care services. Telepsychiatry is potentially a great way to do that. We just need to provide more education and help both providers and patients understand how to use this tool.” – by Amanda Oldt
O’Brien QE, et al. Practice perspectives on telepsychiatry use. Presented at: U.S. Psychiatric and Mental Health Congress; Oct. 21-24, 2016; San Antonio.
Disclosure: The researchers report no relevant financial disclosures.