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 3475 acute care hospitals were derived from the 2017 American Hospital Association Annual Survey. Generalized linear regression models were used to identify characteristics associated with telepsychiatry adoption. Results: About one-sixth (548 [15.8%]) of hospitals reported having telepsychiatry with a wide variation across states. Rural noncore hospitals were less likely to adopt telepsychiatry (8.3%) than hospitals in rural micropolitan (13.6%) and urban counties (19.4%). 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: Prior to the Covid-19 pandemic, telepsychiatry adoption in US hospitals was low with substantial variations by urban and rural status and by state in 2017. This raises concerns about access to psychiatric services and continuity of care for patients discharged from hospitals.
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Published in BMC Psychiatry, Volume 21, Issue 182, 2021.
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Li, Z., Harrison, S., Li, X., & Hung, P. (2021). Telepsychiatry adoption across hospitals in the United States: a cross-sectional study. BMC Psychiatry, 21(182). https://doi.org/10.1186/s12888-021-03180-8