Depressed Patients Treated via Telemedicine Boast Better Outcomes

Telemedicine is revolutionizing the standard of care within the healthcare industry, arguably mostly in the field of behavioral health. Did you know that 1 in 10 adults will be diagnosed with depression but only half will receive care, and is the leading cause of death and disability in the United States? With a shortage of behavioral health specialists available to address the growing behavioral health crisis, a telemental health solution offers to fill this gap while improving patient outcomes. A recent study conducted at the Medical University of South Carolina and the Ralph H. Johnson VA Medical Center found that in patients with depression, telemedicine offers to provide care that is comparable, if not better, than in-person visits.

Study proves positive patient outcomes

The study consisted of randomly assigning 241 depressed, elderly veterans to receive eight weeks of psychotherapy by either visiting a physician’s office or by using an in-home, telemedicine solution. The study was specifically focused on the elderly population because of their limitations in mobility and transportation options, making them good candidates for telemedicine service utilization. The outcome of the study found no negative variance in patient satisfaction whether they were receiving care in the home or in-person. Researchers also wanted to point out that there were no sub-populations based on age, race or gender that showed worse outcomes and would require in-person care.

Telemedicine adoption brings important advantages

Based on these results, the researchers touted that “telemedicine is a highly relevant option to address the needs of rural patients or those living in remote locations, while providing patient satisfaction and quality of life similar to that provided by in-person treatment delivered at clinics.” Some of the other advantages when treating patients with depression through telemedicine solutions that researchers noted:
Reduced stigma
Improved access for patients in remote locations
Enhanced services to those with chronic health problems that restrict their mobility
A possible appeal to younger populations who are more receptive to technology-based health
The researchers also noted that based on the results on the study, positive outcomes are also likely for other patient profiles, such as those suffering from comorbid substance abuse or acute mental health problems.