The Rural Telemental Health (RTMH) Program in Oregon

Since 2009, the Rural Telemental Health (RTMH) program has been improving access to mental healthcare for rural veterans in Idaho, Oregon, and Washington. The RTMH program, stationed at the Portland VA Medical Center, was started with funding from the VHA Office of Rural Health. Instead of needing to drive long distances to a Veterans Administration (VA) facility, veterans can meet with a RTMH provider via telehealth, either at a VA community-based outpatient clinic or, in some cases, in veterans’ homes.

Results:

From 2010 to 2013, RTMH reached 1,754 veterans via phone, email, and videoconferencing. In 2013 alone, RTMH saved patients 1,089,037 miles of travel and recorded:

  • 193 group psychotherapy encounters
  • 363 diagnostic interviews
  • 952 therapist/MD phone calls
  • 961 sessions of psychotherapy/medication management
  • 1,755 nurse phone calls
  • 2,076 sessions of individual therapy

RTMH providers were able to diagnose and treat conditions associated with suicide risk, such as post-traumatic stress disorder (41% of diagnoses), depressive disorder (32%), and anxiety disorders (17%).

Population: Veterans

Links:

  • Learn more about the Rural Telemental Health (RTMH) Program.
  • Learn more about the US Department of Veterans Affairs.
  • Check out the issue brief Telebehavioral Health: An Effective Alternative to In-Person Care from the Milbank Memorial Fund.
  • Check out the policy brief Preventing Suicide In Rural America from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
  • Read the article Making Connections: Suicide Prevention and the Use of Technology With Rural Veterans from the American Psychological Association.
  • Learn more about the Portland VA Medical Center.
  • Learn more about the VA Office of Rural Health.

Date: 2020