HumanInsight U.S. Emergency Department Telepsychiatry Use in 2019
Telemed J E Health. 2022 Jul 22. doi: 10.1089/tmj.2022.0191. Online ahead of print.
Introduction: Although many emergency departments (EDs) receive telehealth services for psychiatry, or telepsychiatry, to manage acute psychiatric emergencies, national research on the usage of ED telepsychiatry is limited. To investigate ED telepsychiatry usage in the pre-COVID-19 era, we surveyed a sample of EDs receiving telepsychiatry in 2019, as a follow-up to a survey targeted to similar EDs in 2017. Methods: All U.S. EDs open in 2019 (n = 5,563) were surveyed to characterize emergency care. A more in-depth second survey on telepsychiatry use (2019 ED Telepsychiatry Survey) was then sent to 235 EDs. Of these EDs, 130 were randomly selected from those that reported telepsychiatry receipt in 2019, and 105 were selected based on their participation in a similar survey in 2017 (2017 ED Telepsychiatry Survey). Results: Of the 235 EDs receiving the 2019 Telepsychiatry Survey, 192 (82%) responded and 172 (90% of responding EDs) confirmed 2019 telepsychiatry receipt. Of these, five were excluded for missing data (analytic sample n = 167). Telepsychiatry was the only form of emergency psychiatric services for 92 (55%) EDs. The most common usage of telepsychiatry was for admission or discharge decisions (82%) and transfer coordination (70%). The most commonly reported telepsychiatry mental health consultants were psychiatrists or other physician-level mental health professionals (74%). Discussion: With telepsychiatry as the only form of psychiatric services for most telepsychiatry-receiving EDs, this innovation fills a critical gap in access to emergency psychiatric care. Further research is needed to investigate the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on usage of ED telepsychiatry.
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