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Tele-psychiatry

What it is

Tele-psychiatry (access to a specialist mental health clinical input via telehealth) as a supplement to face to face services, primarily providing assessment and case conference functions.

How it works

Assessment may be undertaken by psychiatrist or case conferencing by a senior clinician. Tele-psychiatry may be used for specialist consultation in rural and remote areas, and for providing clinical support to clinicians working in these areas, often with a strong focus on capacity building.  A study conducted by the Faculty of Psychiatry of Old Age found that tele-psychiatry for SMSHOP can be effectively used in patient assessment and case conference as an adjunct to face-to-face psychiatry services but not as an alternative to these services. However, recent service evaluations relevant to SMHSOP are limited.  Examples within SMHSOP services include regular use of videoconferencing for clinical review of consumers, as well as clinical supervision and discussion of other clinical issues with staff and consumers in rural areas.

Resourcing

Psychiatrist or senior clinical with specialist older people’s mental health skills.

Success factors

  • Clear and agreed protocols for patient referral, selection, prioritisation, preparation and reporting
  • Appropriate technology, administrative and technical support, space for equipment and conferencing
  • Staff training, and staff who can work with both the SMHSOP clinician and the consumer and / or family on the receiving end of the service
  • Clear operational management and clinical governance arrangements.

Models in operation

  • Case conferencing and assessment (for adult) through MHEC-RAP in Western NSW LHD
  • Concord Hospital to Mid North Coast