Telemedicine in Geriatric Psychiatry: Relevance in India

Indian J Psychol Med. 2021 Sep;43(5 Suppl):S121-S127. doi: 10.1177/02537176211033007. Epub 2021 Sep 21.


Telemedicine has evolved as a novel tool in delivering health care in the modern world. With the advancement in video conferencing technology at an affordable price and innovative digital medical instruments, it has grown from guiding paramedics in managing patients to aiding physicians in providing direct consultation. Delivering care for older adults has always been challenging due to comorbidities that may warrant a multidisciplinary approach leading to frequent visits across specialties. As per the preliminary reports of the Longitudinal Aging Study in India, 55% of this population suffers from any chronic illness, of which 40% have some form of disability and 20% deal with mental health issues. Over the years, telepsychiatry care for older adults has received increasing acceptability. Videoconferencing with improved connectivity and transmission rates has aided in evaluating, assessing, and providing mental health interventions at ease. The recent regulation of telemedicine practice in the country by rolling out the Telemedicine Practice Guidelines 2020 and Telepsychiatry Operational Guidelines 2020 has fast-tracked its utility during the COVID-19 pandemic. Concerns of physical examination, psychological satisfaction of consulting physician in person, confidentiality, and security of information shared are points that need better addressing in the future. However, Telemedicine is recommended to be used judiciously, taking the risk and benefit of older adults on a case basis as it can significantly bring down the financial and emotional burden.

Keywords: Telemedicine; geriatric telepsychiatry; older adults health care.