Telepsychiatry for the Assessment of Patient Admission:

Author: Ming YL Chu-Weininger, PhD, MBA, MPH, MSLIS, FRI

Primary Advisor:

Committee Members: Ignacio Valdes, MD, MS; Craig Johnson, PhD; Kim Dunn, MD, PhD

Masters thesis, The University of Texas School of Health Information Sciences at Houston.

This study examined video-and-telephone conference technologies applied at two mental health institutions for the assessment of patient admission, related costs, observed benefits, and provider and staff job satisfactions. In summer, 2006, Likert-scale items were adapted from the tele-mental health kit developed at the Veterans Administration, for the provider and staff job satisfaction surveys. Instrument validity and reliability were considered on the 18 selected items of each instrument before administration to 11 telemedicine providers, and 33 staff who handled telemedicine, respectively. Six face-to-face interviews with technicians and hospital administrators provided information on cost and observed benefits. Spearman correlations, descriptive and qualitative analyses were performed. Results suggested that the “low cost” technologies applied at the two institutions were associated with provider and staff job satisfactions. In particular, telemedicine was associated with provider and staff productivity. It saved providers time and cost in traveling to the hospital, which helped night-shift provider recruitment and retention. Telemedicine also helped retain patients who would otherwise be gone because of the waiting time. Clinical efficiency and effectiveness variables were associated with provider job satisfaction. Good image quality was associated with staff job satisfaction. Overall, results and lessons learned have implications for future telepsychiatry investment and protocol development.