Rural Assertive Community Treatment and Telepsychiatry [2018]

Assertive community treatment (ACT) is an evidence-based treatment for patients with severe and persistent mental illness. ACT has been shown to reduce inpatient hospitalization and is increasingly being used as a mainstay of evidence-based psychiatric practice for these clinical populations. The increasing implementation of evidence-based practices has led to the expansion of ACT in rural areas. Variability in the adaptation of ACT in rural areas has included accommodation by teams to multiple barriers. One way to increase psychiatric professional efficiency in rural areas is with telepsychiatry and possibly with rural ACT, but with unknown effects on fidelity and outcomes. Telepsychiatry has been considered a means of expanding the reach of and access to ACT. Concerns about the use of telepsychiatry by ACT teams include the psychiatrist’s ability to develop a relationship with patients and staff and difficulties observing the patient’s entire living environment via telemedicine. The Piedmont Community Services Board (CSB) Program for Assertive Community Treatment (PACT) serves patients in southwestern Virginia in collaboration with the Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine. The Piedmont CSB PACT uses telemedicine to expand the treating psychiatrist’s reach and contact with PACT patients, increasing the efficiency of the psychiatrist’s PACT time. Telemedicine is used for crisis intervention and augmentation of regular ongoing visits. The goals of this project were to measure patient, staff, and psychiatrist comfort and satisfaction with the use of telepsychiatry in ACT in addition to monitoring routine outcome measures.


Journal of Psychiatric Practice, July 2018 – Volume 24 – Issue 4

doi: 10.1097/PRA.0000000000000313

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