During the coronavirus pandemic, remote mental health appointments have become increasingly popular. A study published in the journal Annals of Internal Medicine found that over half of mental health appointments are now being conducted remotely, primarily through videoconferencing. This shift to telemedicine has allowed patients to access care through technology such as cellphones, video chats, computers or tablets.
The study analyzed patient information from the Department of Veterans Affairs and found that the volume of telemedicine visits increased significantly after the start of the pandemic. In-person visits for primary care and mental health dropped from 81% to 23% in the first few months of the pandemic, while phone-based care returned to pre-pandemic levels by spring 2023. Video-based care remained close to its pandemic peak, representing a 2,300% increase from its pre-pandemic level.
The researchers noted that 55% of mental health care continues to be provided via telemedicine due to its ease of adaptation to virtual platforms. On the other hand, primary care and medical specialists’ care often require in-person evaluations, making telemedicine appointments less viable.
This trend towards remote mental health services is part of The Washington Post’s “Big Number” series which provides a brief look at statistical aspects of health issues. Additional details and relevant research can be found through the hyperlink provided.