This is the first large-scale study to describe the types of telemental health services provided by the Veterans Health Administration (VHA).
The authors compiled national-level VHA administrative data for fiscal years 2006–2010 (October 1, 2005, to September 30, 2010). Telemental health encounters were identified by VHA and U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs stop codes and categorized as medication management, individual psychotherapy with or without medication management, group psychotherapy, and diagnostic assessment.
A total of 342,288 telemental health encounters were identified, and each type increased substantially across the five years. Telepsychotherapy with medication management was the fastest growing type of telemental health service.
The use of videoconferencing technology has expanded beyond medication management alone to include telepsychotherapy services, including both individual and group psychotherapy, and diagnostic assessments. The increase in telemental health services is encouraging, given the large number of returning veterans living in rural areas.