Original Research

Telepsychiatry in South Africa – present and future

Sinclair Wynchank, Jill Fortuin
South African Journal of Psychiatry | Vol 16, No 1 | a231 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/sajpsychiatry.v16i1.231 | © 2010 Sinclair Wynchank, Jill Fortuin | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 13 November 2009 | Published: 01 March 2010

About the author(s)

Sinclair Wynchank, Telemedicine Platform, Medical Research Council, Cape Town, and School of Child and Adolescent Health, University of Cape Town
Jill Fortuin, Telemedicine Platform, Medical Research Council, Cape Town

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The recent progress in telepsychiatry results from advancing technology and videoconferencing as an effective alternative to classic face-to-face psychiatric interaction, in terms of both results and cost-effectiveness. The wide range of applications of telepsychiatry is outlined – in particular, emergency, forensic, prison and adolescent psychiatry. Attitudes of patients and the providers of psychiatric services are discussed, and a short account is given of the place of tele-education in psychiatric teaching. The advantages of telepsychiatry are outlined and its limitations. Lastly, the limited experience and relevance of telepsychiatry in South Africa (and hence for other developing countries) are presented. The conclusion is that telepsychiatry is well established, its successes documented, and that it should be applied in planning future public health services in South Africa.




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