The study assessed clinical outcomes of 98,609 mental health patients before and after enrollment in telemental health services of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs between 2006 and 2010.
The study compared number of inpatient psychiatric admissions and days of psychiatric hospitalization among patients who participated in remote clinical videoconferencing during an average period of six months before and after their enrollment in the telemental health services.
Between 2006 and 2010, psychiatric admissions of telemental health patients decreased by an average of 24.2% (annual range 16.3%–38.7%), and the patients' days of hospitalization decreased by an average of 26.6% (annual range 16.5%–43.5%). The number of admissions and the days of hospitalization decreased for both men and women and in 83.3% of the age groups.
This four-year study, the first large-scale assessment of telemental health services, found that after initiation of such services, patients' hospitalization utilization decreased by an average of approximately 25%. (Psychiatric Services 63:383–385, 2012; doi: 10.1176/appi.ps.201100206)