Telepsychiatry Shows Promise in Underserved Areas
Telepsychiatry is the use of teleconferencing technology to bring the psychiatrists to patients in underserved areas. The implication of this service results in less travel for many patients and the services have been designed to be understood and used by those of all expertise levels.
In a study from Mental Illness performed in Ontario, Canada last year, all of the 84 patients participating had no prior computer access, and lacked sufficient expertise with computer programs such as Skype. This being stated, the results of the study were very promising.
After a telepsychiatry experience, all of the 84 participants rated their experience via teleconference. They were asked 10 questions that were answered on a 1-5 scale and two additional questions. 92.9% of participants reported that they were able to communicate as if physically present. 95.2% were comfortable with the service, and 84.5% of participants found the session as beneficial as a direct meeting with their psychiatrist. An impressive 98.8% of the participants stated they would use the service again. Only 1 of the 84 patients found the process stressful.
With nearly all participants happy with their experiences, telepsychiatry is showing much promise for those who have limited access to mental health resources. Patients in rural areas and even third world countries can now receive aid thanks to telemedicine altogether. With psychiatrists remaining in larger cities, and those in need elsewhere, this technology is helping us to help those we never thought we could reach.