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Online Counseling for Mental Health

Can psychiatrists use store and forward methodology to accurately diagnose primary care patients.

Investigators at University of California, Davis(UC-Davis) have found that psychiatrists can accurately assess, diagnose, and counsel patients by viewing Web-based or e-mail files, specifically videotaped interviews that are sent using an store and forward approach called asynchronous telepsychitary.

The approach—used regularly for years in other specialties, specifically dermatology— sees clinicians retrieving medical information, storing it, and transmitting it for later review by others who are provided access. The current study is the first to look at its use in psychiatry.

“We’ve demonstrated that this approach is feasible and very efficient,” said lead author Dr. Peter Yellowlees, professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences, UC-Davis.

“Using store-and-forward technology allows us to provide opinions to primary-care doctors much more quickly than would usually be the case.”

For the study, researcher Alberto Odor, associate adjunct professor, anesthesiology and pain medicine, UC-Davis, conducted 20- to -30-minute interviews at a community-based primary care clinic and then uploaded them to a specially designed UC-Davis Web-based telepsychiatry consultation record. Then, Yellowlees and a colleague reviewed the tapes and provided their evaluations to the patients’ primary care physicians.

More on telepsychiatry:

  • Learn more about the study results at the UC-Davis website.
  • Review the published results in the August issue of Psychiatric Services.
  • Check out the Telepsychiatry Wikipedia page
  • See what the APA has to say on the topic.