Telemedicine in a Rural Gero-Psychiatric Inpatient Unit: Comparison of Perception/Satisfaction to Onsite Psychiatric Care

McCurtain Memorial Hospital, Idabel, Oklahoma 74745, USA.
Telemedicine and e-Health (Impact Factor: 1.67). 06/2008; 14(4):381-4. DOI: 10.1089/tmj.2007.0054
Source: PubMed


Telemedicine in a rural, gero-psychiatric inpatient unit is a groundbreaking concept. The use of telemedicine in rural communities, both inpatient and outpatient, is a significant way to provide specialty care that might otherwise only be available in urban areas. Establishing its credibility through perception/satisfaction studies and clinical outcome studies is therefore crucial. This paper outlines an initial attempt to provide some of the necessary data. A review of the literature reveals limited data to demonstrate the impact of telemedicine on inpatient healthcare satisfaction and perceived outcomes as compared to traditional, on-site physician practice. None of the literature addresses the use of telemedicine in an inpatient gero-psychiatric unit. The McCurtain Memorial Hospital is a pioneer in the use of telemedicine to provide acute gero-psychiatric care in a community-based inpatient setting. Pre- and post-Patient/Family Satisfaction Survey data for a period ranging 12 months prior to inception of telemedicine and 12 months postinception were aggregated and analyzed. The results indicate that there is a positive correlation between telemedicine and the patient/family satisfaction with and perception of benefits of treatment. It must be noted that patient/family perception of outcome and actual measures of clinical outcome are not the same. Clinical outcome data must also be collected to fully assess the success of telemedicine in this arena.

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