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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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© The Author(s). 2021 Open Access This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons licence, and indicate if changes were made. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article's Creative Commons licence, unless indicated otherwise in a credit line to the material. If material is not included in the article's Creative Commons licence and your intended use is not permitted by statutory regulation or exceeds the permitted use, you will need to obtain permission directly from the copyright holder. To view a copy of this licence, visit The Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication waiver ( applies to the data made available in this article, unless otherwise stated in a credit line to the data.

APA Citation

Li, Z., Harrison, S. E., Li, X., & Hung, P. (2021). Telepsychiatry adoption across hospitals in the United States: a cross-sectional study. BMC Psychiatry, 21(1).