Use of Telepsychiatry Has Nearly Doubled Since 2010
The amount of mental health facilities in the US that offer telepsychiatry has increased significantly since 2010, according to the results of a recent study.
While previous research has examined the use and effectiveness of telepsychiatry, few studies have dealt with trends of telepsychiatry use on a national level.
To further explore this issue, as well as factors contributing to the likelihood of telepsychiatry use, the researchers conducted a study using data from the 2010-2017 National Mental Health Services Survey, as well as additional data from the State Profiling System, and the 2010 US Census.
Overall, the amount of facilities using telepsychiatry increased significantly over time, from 15.2% (1580 facilities) in 2010 to 29.2% (3385 facilities) in 2017. Despite this increase, significant variability in the number of facilities offering telemedicine existed between the states, with a range of less than 15% of facilities to over 60% of facilities in a given state offering the service. While a majority of the states experienced an increase in the number of facilities offering telepsychiatry of 10% to 20% from 2010 to 2017, some saw increases of over 30% while other facilities experienced decreases.
Facilities that offered the service were more likely to be publicly owned; funded by federal and local government, private insurance, and grant funding; were more commonly outpatient facilities; and more likely to offer other mental health services (including integrated primary care) than those that did not offer the service.
“This study demonstrated that the national availability of telepsychiatry services has expanded rapidly, with nearly twice as many facilities offering telepsychiatry services in 2017 than in 2010. Study results also show that facilities with telepsychiatry are generally well funded from a variety of sources, although challenges remain with Medicaid coverage, and that state funding has an appreciable link to whether telepsychiatry is offered,” the researchers concluded.
“Facilities with telepsychiatry offer a variety of services to a wide range of populations, and the increased use of these services among populations with greater barriers to access, such as those residing in rural and underserved areas, continues to promise that such services will be made available to patients with the greatest need.”
Spivak S, Spivak A, Cullen B, et al. Telepsychiatry use in US mental health facilities, 2010-2017 [published online October 16, 2019]. Psychiatr Serv. https://doi.org/10.1176/appi.ps.201900261.