A comparison study of the turnaround time for telepsychiatry versus face-to-face consultations in general hospital nonpsychiatric emergency rooms

BACKGROUND: Psychiatric consultation services, particularly for emergen­cies, are limited in many parts of the United States. Telepsychiatry services are helping to bridge the gap, and are gaining acceptance and popularity. There is paucity of publications regarding comparison of turnaround time for consultations between video conferencing and traditional face-to-face psychiatric consultations in general hospital nonpsychiatric emergency departments (EDs). Our study aimed to address turnaround time and patient satisfaction.

METHODS: Data regarding the turnaround time for emergency psychiatric consultations using telepsychiatry in general hospital EDs was collected retrospectively and compared with the time for face-to-face traditional consultations. A patient satisfaction survey was also conducted after the telepsychiatry consultation. Statistical analysis of the data was done after the study was completed.

RESULTS: The telepsychiatry group included 206 participants and the con­trol group had 186 participants. There was an 84% reduction in the turn­around time for telepsychiatry consults (95% confidence interval, 81% to 86%). A patient satisfaction survey showed 97% satisfaction with telepsy­chiatry services. Gender and age did not modify the effect of telepsychiatry on time to consult (P > .10).

CONCLUSIONS: The reduction in the turnaround time and improved patient satisfaction indicate that telepsychiatry services can improve the quality of care for patients in need of emergency services.

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