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Implementation of video telehealth to improve access to evidence-based psychotherapy for posttraumatic stress disorder.

Lindsay JA, Kauth MR, Hudson S, Martin LA, Ramsey DJ, Daily L, Rader J. Implementation of video telehealth to improve access to evidence-based psychotherapy for posttraumatic stress disorder. Telemedicine journal and e-health : the official journal of the American Telemedicine Association. 2015 Jun 1; 21(6):467-72.

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BACKGROUND: Increasing access to psychotherapy for posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a primary focus of the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) healthcare system. Delivery of treatment via video telehealth can expand availability of treatment and be equally effective as in-person treatment. Despite VA efforts, barriers to establishing telehealth services remain, including both provider acceptance and organizational obstacles. Thus, development of specific strategies is needed to implement video telehealth services in complex healthcare systems, like the VA. MATERIALS AND METHODS: This project was guided by the Promoting Action on Research Implementation in Health Services framework and used external facilitation to increase access to psychotherapy via video telehealth. The project was conducted at five VA Medical Centers and their associated community clinics across six states in the South Central United States. RESULTS: Over a 21-month period, 27 video telehealth clinics were established to provide greater access to evidence-based psychotherapies for PTSD. Examination of change scores showed that participating sites averaged a 3.2-fold increase in unique patients and a 6.5-fold increase in psychotherapy sessions via video telehealth for PTSD. Differences between participating and nonparticipating sites in both unique patients and encounters were significant (p = 0.041 and p = 0.009, respectively). Two groups emerged, separated by degree of engagement in the facilitation intervention. Facilitation was perceived as useful by providers. CONCLUSIONS: To our knowledge, this is the first prospective study of external facilitation as an implementation strategy for telehealth. Our findings suggest that external facilitation is an effective and acceptable strategy to support providers as they establish clinics and make complex practice changes, such as implementing video telehealth to deliver psychotherapy.

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