Telepsychiatry was introduced in the early 1950’s for the provision of mental health services from a distance. In 1990 the progress made in telecommunications technologies caused a significant expansion in telepsychiatry services. It can refer to store and forward technologies, interactive technologies, remote monitoring technologies and it is applied to contribute to the lift of restrictions placed on providing mental health services. Restrictions may exist due to geographic isolation, lack of specialized services, high cost of moving patients etc. The positive cost-benefit analysis and the reliability of diagnosis and efficacy of interventions through telepsychiatry have been documented in various research papers referring to a wide range of contexts such as prisons, remote areas, general and psychiatric hospitals. Since 2003 the Mobile Mental Health Unit of South- Eastern (SE) Cyclades has been using videoconferencing in order to provide mental health services in thirteen islands. This area shares many of the characteristics of remote areas such as residential dispersion, lack of mental health services and frequent lack of access to services in urban centers. Telepsychiatry in conjunction with physical presence of professionals was launched by the Mobile Mental Health Unit in order to provide assistance to the evaluation of patients, to therapeutic interventions, to medicine prescription, to crisis intervention, to psychoeducation of patients and their families and to the implementation of educational and administrative activities . The use of existing technology in combination with the development of human resources has enabled continuity of care, crisis intervention and avoidance of involuntary hospitalization for a significant number of persons. Moreover, it has improved cooperation and coordination between the interdisciplinary team and local authorities and agencies. When professionals located in different parts are collaborating via telepsychiatry it is necessary to ensure that they have immediate and simultaneous access to data concerning the patient. This need is served by the electronic medical record that facilitates access to patient records, improves the quality of care, reduces the probability of making wrong decisions and contributes to the promotion of research and service evaluation. KLIMAKA’s electronic medical record contains more than ten thousand cases of which 4544 are related to individuals served by the Mobile Mental Health Unit during the years 2003–2010. This article presents the basic functions and parameters of the electronic medical record, the applications of telepsychiatry in the whole range of services provided by the scientific staff and provides information on how human and technology resources are distributed to the branches of the Mobile Mental Health Unit of SE Cyclades.
Key words: Telepsychiatry, community mental health, mobile mental health unit, electronic medical records.
D. Garoni, D. Sarantidis, K. Katsadoros (page 287) - Full article (Greek)