Telepsychiatry Cuts Hospital Admissions and Saves Money



Almost 4 months ago, I wrote that TelePsychiatry is the Killer App for Video Conferencing.  It may put a kink in Lucy’s walk-in practice, but the benefits to the rest of society are clear.  (And if Lucy would like to Expand Her Presence, there is a place she can go)

Who should come along to back me up, but the American College of Emergency Physicians (ACEP).  Their July 2011 issue of ACEP News includes an article titled “ED Telepsychiatry Cuts Admissions, Saves Money.”

The article tells the story of implementations in South Carolina and includes a commentary by the vice chair for Emergency Medicine at Lehigh Valley Hospital in Pennsylvania where a telepsychiatry program is also in place.

The following data are from the South Carolina study:

  • Admission rates (33% lower)
  • Length of Emergency Department stays (25% shorter)
  • Outpatient follow-up rates (nearly 4x higher)
  • Cost (29% lower for Medicaid patients, 38% lower for private insurance)
  • Patient satisfaction: 80%
  • Physician Satisfaction: 90%
  • Physicians who believe they are more productive using telepsychiatry: 75%

Per the study, “the patient receives a higher quality of care, and the hospitals have reduced costs.”


Microsoft Acquires Skype — Video Collaboration World Yawns

The twittering began a while ago, then came the announcement that an announcement would come, and now…it is announced.

Microsoft will acquire Skype for $8.5 Billion in cash.

Good for Microsoft to get access to the Skype user community with hundreds of millions of loyalists.  Good for Skype to have the 800 lb. gorilla in software as its partner to provide marketing channels and deep pockets.


A client asked for our thoughts.  Here are what come to mind first:

1) Culture Clash —

  • Skype is a peer to peer product developed to help people go around the price-gouging of telecom monopolies via internet and gave its service away for free, for years and still does
  • Microsoft develops something for everyone, enterprise wide, is the de facto standard for many of its markets and has for years been the subject of claims that it is “The Great Satan” or “Evil Empire” in the software world for abusing its market power and ruthless commitment to enhancing its own profits

2) Free — Many people use Skype because it is free and you can access millions of friends, family, etc.  Does Microsoft intend to keep it free?

3) Usability — Skype is simple, easy to get started with and has lots of nice features.  Cross your fingers that Skype’s usability influences Microsoft’s development path and not the other way around.

4) Control — Skype does not have a feature-rich IT control suite, user permissions, rights, bandwidth constraints, domains, profiles, etc.  Expect Microsoft to layer a lot of that functionality in.  Will that make Skype less attractive to users even as it becomes more palatable to IT and Network managers?

5) Security — Skype has some significant, and often-discussed security vulnerabilities as well as the basic challenge of peer-to-peer architecture.  Add Skype (a big target) to Microsoft (the biggest target there is) and you can expect a series of security attacks while newly integrated products are rolled out by Microsoft.  Hopefully no one gets hurt.

6) Quality — Neither Skype nor Microsoft has a high quality video communication and collaboration solution.  So what changes that will be good from the users perspective?

7) Feature Overlap — Many of Skype’s features overlap with Microsoft Lync, Kinect and other tools.  Do they merge, remain parallel, or  something in-between?

8) Reality — Press releases are great at talking about the opportunities.  The hard part is knitting together the gaps in technology, philosophy, marketing, pricing, packaging, distribution, support…


Will they be successful ?  Only time will tell.  What do you think?

Top 5 Reasons TelePsychiatry is a Killer App for Video Conferencing

The Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), a division of Health and Human Services (HHS) has a database where you can search for information about shortages of access to primary care, dental and mental health services.  A quick search for mental health services reveals a significant shortage in almost every area across the nation.




Top 5 Reasons Why TelePsychiatry is a Killer App for Video Conferencing

1) Mental health services means different Read more