Wednesday, May 03, 2017

Tele-medicine for mental health on the rise in rural areas, but at a slower rate in some states

Tele-medicine for mental health is on the rise in rural areas, but its use varies widely by state, says a study by researchers at Harvard Medical School published in Health Affairs(Harvard graphic: Tele-mental health visits per 100 rural Medicare beneficiaries with serious mental illness in 2014)
The study looked at Medicare fee-for-service claims from 2004 to 2014, finding that the number of telemental health visits grew on average 45.1 percent annually—to 5.3 visits per every for 100 rural beneficiaries—for any mental illness and 49.3 percent for serious mental illness, or 11.8 visits per every 100 rural beneficiaries. Wyoming and Montana led the way with more than 45 visits for serious mental illness, while four states had none.

Researchers found that during the study period the number of tele-mental health visits among rural patients with any mental illness rose from 2,365 to 87,120, an average annual growth rate of 45.1, while the number of visits among those with serious mental illness rose from 1,040 to 50,050, an average annual growth rate of 49.3 percent. Overall, just 1.5 percent of patients with serious mental health disorders living in rural areas received treatment via tele-medicine.

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