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Technologically Punctual? A Preliminary Evaluation of Differences between Face-to-Face and Video Check-In Times for Initial Mental Health Services

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Video-based telehealth provides mental health services to underserved populations. As decision makers reevaluate service offerings following COVID-19, it remains prudent to evaluate the utility of ongoing telehealth options among rural healthcare facilities, the primary healthcare source for many rural individuals. As research continues to compare video and face-to-face services, one understudied component is attendance. Although video-based telehealth has demonstrated improved show-rates for mental health services when compared to face-to-face methods, limited work has clarified whether video improves patient punctuality for these appointments, a documented challenge prevalent for patients with mental health-related concerns. A retrospective electronic record review of psychiatry, psychology, and social work initial patient visits between 2018–2022 was conducted (N = 14,088). Face-to-face visits demonstrated a mean check-in time of -10.78 min (SD = 26.77), while video visits demonstrated a mean check-in time of -6.44 (SD = 23.87). Binary logistic regressions suggested that increased video usage was associated with a decreased likelihood of late check-in (B = -0.10, S. E. = 0.05, Exp(B) = 0.91, 95% CI = 0.83 – 1.00). Exploratory binary logistic regressions evaluated age, sex, race, ethnicity, specialty, insurance type, and diagnostic classification influence on video initial visits. Increased video usage was associated with a statistically decreased likelihood of late check-in; however, clinically, both face-to-face and video visits exhibited mean check-in times prior to the initial visit’s scheduled time. As such, mental health organizations are encouraged to continue offering both face-to-face and video as options to foster evidence-based practices to the broadest population.

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The authors would like to thank the West Virginia Clinical and Translational Science Institute. Research reported in this publication was supported by the National Institute of General Medical Sciences of the National Institutes of Health under Award Number 5U54GM104942-05. The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Institutes of Health.

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Correspondence to Jonathan G. Perle PhD, ABPP.

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Perle, J.G., Ludrosky, J. & Law, KB. Technologically Punctual? A Preliminary Evaluation of Differences between Face-to-Face and Video Check-In Times for Initial Mental Health Services. J Behav Health Serv Res (2023).

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