Insights

Genoa Healthcare Study Finds Telepsychiatry Improves Access to Mental Health Care in Rural Areas

Genoa Healthcare May 1, 2019

Results show patients are seen seven days sooner and 34 percent more likely to have regular visits when telepsychiatry is combined with in-person care

RENTON, Wash. (May 1, 2019) – A new study by Genoa Healthcare and Relias found that combining telepsychiatry with in-person visits improved timeliness of care and increased the number of regular psychiatric appointments for people with severe mental illness in non-metropolitan areas where provider resources tend to be scarce.  

Recently published in the American Psychological Association’s Journal of Rural Mental Health, the peer-reviewed study analyzed data from Medicaid patients in rural Missouri following an inpatient admission or emergency room visit. Results found patients were seen seven days sooner and 34 percent more likely to have regular follow-up visits when combined with in-person care.

“The issue of access to quality mental health care in rural areas is a well-documented public health challenge,” said Samir Malik, executive vice president and general manager of telepsychiatry at Genoa Healthcare. “These study findings show that telepsychiatry can be a practical and effective way to help close the gap between rural and urban mental health care access.”

One in five Americans in rural areas live with a mental illness, yet 65 percent of non-metropolitan areas lack access to in-person psychiatric care. The use of video-based telepsychiatry greatly expands the geographic reach of providers.

The study analyzed 242 patients using a retrospective quasi-experimental design. Findings showed patients receiving hybrid care of telepsychiatry encounters with in-person visits experienced greater access to care compared to patients receiving in-person care only.

  • Patients were seen on average within 16.4 days, compared to 23.6 days for the in-person only control group.
  • 67 percent had at least one outpatient encounter per month compared to 50.3 percent of the control group.
  • There were no statistically significant differences between groups for emergency department visits, antipsychotic medication adherence, and readmissions in the window studied. Further studies will be needed to determine the long-term impact on cost of care.

“Providing adequate psychiatric care to our rural population is among the top challenges in our behavioral health system because of scarce resources,” said Christy Power, vice president of health services at Preferred Family Healthcare in Hannibal, Missouri, whose patients were studied in the analysis. “We’ve only begun to scratch the surface of telepsychiatry as an important tool in the rural mental health provider’s toolbox, but the potential is tremendous.”

Study authors include Sana Khalid, Genoa Healthcare, New York, New York; M. Courtney Hughes, Jack M. Gorman, Yingqian Ren and Carol Clayton, Relias, Cary, North Carolina.

About Genoa Healthcare

Genoa Healthcare has been serving the behavioral health community for nearly 20 years, providing pharmacy services, telepsychiatry and medication management solutions. Today, Genoa Healthcare serves 800,000 individuals annually in 47 states and the District of Columbia, and fills more than 15 million prescriptions per year. Genoa Healthcare has more than 450 pharmacies located onsite within community mental health centers. Genoa Healthcare is part of OptumRx, a leading pharmacy care services company.

About Relias

For more than 10,000 healthcare organizations and 4,500,000 caregivers, Relias continues to help clients deliver better clinical and financial outcomes by reducing variation in care. Our platform employs performance metrics and assessments to reveal specific gaps in skills and addresses them with targeted, personalized and engaging learning. We help healthcare organizations, their people, and those under their care, get better. Better at identifying problems, addressing them with better knowledge and skills, and better outcomes for all. Let us help you get better: www.relias.com.

Genoa Media Contact

Lida Poletz
(612) 214-3417
lpoletz@genoahealthcare.com

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