Telepsychiatry Adoption Across Hospitals in the United States: A Cross-Sectional Study
Background Access to psychiatric care is critical for patients discharged from hospital psychiatric units to ensure continuity of care. When face-to-face follow-up is unavailable or undesirable, telepsychiatry becomes a promising alternative. This study aimed to investigate hospital- and county-level characteristics associated with telepsychiatry adoption.Methods Cross-sectional national data of 3,475 acute care hospitals were derived from the 2017 American Hospital Association Annual Survey.
... on Annual Survey. Generalized linear regression models were used to identify characteristics associated with telepsychiatry adoption. Results About one-sixth (548 [15.8%]) reported having telepsychiatry. Rural noncore hospitals were less likely to adopt telepsychiatry (8.3%) than hospitals in rural micropolitan (13.6%) and urban counties (19.4%), with a wide variation across states. Hospitals with both outpatient and inpatient psychiatric care services (marginal difference [95% CI]: 16.0% [12.1% to 19.9%]) and hospitals only with outpatient psychiatric services (6.5% [3.7% to 9.4%]) were more likely to have telepsychiatry than hospitals with neither psychiatric services. Federal hospitals (48.9% [32.5% to 65.3%]), system-affiliated hospitals (3.9% [1.2% to 6.6%]), hospitals with larger bed size (Quartile IV vs. I: 6.2% [0.7% to 11.6%]), and hospitals with greater ratio of Medicaid inpatient days to total inpatient days (Quartile IV vs. I: 4.9% [0.3% to 9.4%]) were more likely to have telepsychiatry than their counterparts. Private non-profit hospitals (-6.9% [-11.7% to -2.0%]) and hospitals in counties designated as whole mental health professional shortage areas (-6.6% [-12.7% to -0.5%]) were less likely to have telepsychiatry. Conclusions Telepsychiatry adoption was low in US hospitals in 2017 with substantial variations by urban and rural status and by state. It raises concerns about access to psychiatric services and continuity of care for patients discharged from hospitals.