A promising pilot study has been conducted in South Carolina where patients admitted to emergency departments are eligible to receive help from a psychiatrist via technology. The results of the study were very positive with, “$1,400 in savings per episode of care…furthermore, patients who came through the program are 200 percent more likely to show up for aftercare.”
While some doctors have noted the lack of in-person physicality that can be very effective in psychiatry, such as “A caring touch or handing a patient a tissue,” US News and World Report’s Health blog reports that the advantages far outweigh any disadvantages. The tremendous increase in efficiency paired with decreased costs is not the only pluses to telepsychiatry. “Very rarely do patients have a problem talking to a psychiatrist on a big video screen,” the article says. In many cases a patient will open up more through this medium due to being in the comfort of their own home.
The report goes on to mention that many psychiatrists are becoming open to the concept of telemedicine, finding it gratifying to be able to reach more patients and help them avoid ER visits. “Although telepsychiatry has developed on the heels of telemedicine, which uses technology to do things such as take patients’ vital signs and send the results remotely,” the article says, “studies have shown that telepsychiatry might actually benefit psychiatric patients more.”
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