Geriatric Telepsychiatry: Systematic Review and Policy Considerations

Melanie T. Gentry, Maria I. Lapid, Teresa A. Rummans

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Scopus citations


Telemental health (TMH) for older patients has the potential to increase access to geriatric specialists, reduce travel times for patients and providers, and reduce ever growing healthcare costs. This systematic review article examines the literature regarding psychiatric assessment and treatment via telemedicine for geriatric patients. English language literature was searched using Ovid Medline, PubMed, and PsycINFO with search terms including telemedicine, telemental health, aging, and dementia. Abstracts were reviewed for relevance based on inclusion criteria. Multiple study types were reviewed, including open label, qualitative and randomized controlled trial study designs. Data was compiled regarding participants, study intervention, and outcomes. 76 articles were included. TMH was shown to be feasible and well accepted in the areas of inpatient and nursing home consultation, cognitive testing, dementia diagnosis and treatment, depression in integrated and collaborative care models, and psychotherapy. There is limited data on cost-effectiveness of TMH in the elderly. This article will discuss the current barriers to broader implementation of telemedicine for geriatric patients including reimbursement from the Medicare program. Medicare reimbursement for telemedicine is limited to rural areas, which does not allow for the widespread development of telemedicine programs. All Medicare beneficiaries would benefit from increased access to telemedicine services, not only those living in rural areas. As many elderly and disabled individuals have mobility problems, home-based telemedicine services should also be made available. There are efforts in Congress to expand the coverage of these services under Medicare, but strong advocacy will be needed to ensure these efforts are successful.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)109-127
Number of pages19
JournalAmerican Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2019


  • Medicare
  • Telemedicine
  • geriatrics
  • mental health
  • reimbursement

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geriatrics and Gerontology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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