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Telemed J E Health. 2006 Aug;12(4):490-5.

Use of secure e-mail and telephone: psychiatric consultations to accelerate rural health service delivery.

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  • 1University of California, Davis, Sacramento, California 95817, USA.


Telemedicine is one strategy to improve the accessibility and quality of specialty healthcare to rural settings. After nearly 10 years of video evaluation of patients in rural primary care, telephone and e-mail physician-to-physician consultations were initiated to supplement video and hasten treatment initiation. This paper proposes a model of using telephone and e-mail consultations before or in place of video consultations, because the latter are not always available or timely. Two cases are presented in depth to delineate clinical, consultation, and health services issues. Early use of telephone appears to accelerate the telepsychiatric consultation and resulted in clinical improvement for patients. Primary care providers (PCPs) appeared satisfied with the process of these consultations. The average duration of consultation was about 10 minutes for each party. Telephone and e-mail consultation appear satisfactory to providers and inexpensive, but need to be further evaluated in terms of clinical, health service, and cost outcomes.

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