Limitations in the routine use of telepsychiatry

J Telemed Telecare. 2009;15(1):28-31. doi: 10.1258/jtt.2008.080609.


Telepsychiatry is well established in many countries, but there is still little information about its use in routine health care. We reviewed the literature for information on the use of telepsychiatry in mental health services. From 1033 publications identified in the literature search and through references from a separate project, 16 studies or descriptions of the routine use of telepsychiatry services were selected for further review. Eleven of these articles dealt primarily with videoconferencing and five with telephone- based services. Clinical use of videoconferencing in the programmes described by the reviewed papers was modest, with an average of 16 consultations per month. Three of the telephone-based services had large numbers of clients. The papers we reviewed gave limited consideration to the healthcare systems in which telepsychiatry was provided and to the use of conventional mental health services. Telepsychiatry appears to still be a niche technology in many health systems. A lack of champions for the technology and reimbursement problems may contribute to the limited use of this area of telemedicine.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Canada
  • Databases, Bibliographic
  • Finland
  • Humans
  • Mental Health Services / statistics & numerical data*
  • Telemedicine / statistics & numerical data*
  • Videoconferencing / statistics & numerical data