Greater county-level use of telemental health visits is associated with modest increases in contact with outpatient specialty mental healthcare professionals and a greater likelihood of follow-up after hospitalization for patients with serious mental illness, according to a study published in JAMA Network Open. Ateev Mehrotra, MD, MPH, examined a sample of fee-for-service Medicare claims for 118,170 beneficiaries with schizophrenia and related psychotic disorders and/or bipolar I disorder in 2,916 nonmetropolitan counties from 2010-2018. The fraction of
counties that had high telemental health service use increased from 2% in 2010 to 17% in 2018, and there were 1.08 telemental health service visits per patient in 2018 in the high telemental health counties. Patients in high-use counties were 1.2 percentage points more likely to have a minimum number of specialty mental health service visits, 13.7 percentage points more likely to have outpatient follow-up within 7 days of a mental health hospitalization, and 0.47 percentage points more likely to be hospitalized in a year compared with counties with no telemental healthcare.