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J Telemed Telecare. 1998;4 Suppl 1:66-8.

Cost evaluation of a telepsychiatry service in northern Queensland.

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  • 1Cairns Base Hospital, Queensland.


We conducted a simple comparison of the costs associated with delivering a mental health service by telepsychiatry and by conventional methods. The telepsychiatry rural outreach service was delivered to a mining town 900 km from the regional hospital in Townsville. When the telemedicine service was well established, 40 cases a month were seen for general adult psychiatry, four for child and adolescent mental health, four for psychology and two for forensic services. Costs and quality-of-life issues were considered. The savings to the health authority were estimated to be $85,380 in the first year and $112,790 in subsequent years, not allowing for maintenance and equipment upgrading. We also estimated a 40% reduction in patient transfers due to the introduction of telemedicine. Based on the previous year's figures of 27 transfers at $8920 each, this would produce an annual saving of $96,336 for the Royal Flying Doctor Service. The results of the study showed considerable savings from reduced travel by patients and health-care workers.

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