• Thu. Feb 29th, 2024

Breaking down the numbers: Telemedicine’s rise in mental health care during the pandemic and beyond


Feb 12, 2024
Majority of mental health appointments held through video conferencing

Telemedicine or telehealth has become increasingly popular in the field of mental health care, with over half of appointments (55%) now being conducted remotely through videoconferencing. This form of care allows patients to receive care through technology such as cellphones, video chat, computers, and tablets.

A recent study analyzed patient information from the Department of Veterans Affairs from January 1, 2019, through August 31, 2023, covering over 277 million outpatient visits by 9 million veterans. The study found that the volume of telemedicine visits increased significantly once the coronavirus pandemic began, becoming much more common than in-person visits. For primary care and mental health care, in-person appointments dropped from 81% to 23% in the first few months of the pandemic.

By spring 2023, phone-based care had returned to its pre-pandemic level, but video-based care had remained close to its peak during the pandemic, representing a 2,300% increase from its pre-pandemic level. The researchers noted that the majority of mental health care continues to be provided via telemedicine due to its ease of adapting to virtual platforms compared to primary care and medical specialist’s care which often require in-person evaluations such as physical examinations.

This article is part of The Washington Post’s “Big Number” series which provides a brief look at statistical aspects of health issues. Additional information and relevant research can be found through the hyperlinks provided.

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