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International Journal of Telemedicine and Applications
Volume 2018, Article ID 7937610, 7 pages
Research Article

Characterizing the Use of Telepsychiatry for Patients with Opioid Use Disorder and Cooccurring Mental Health Disorders in Ontario, Canada

1Northern Ontario School of Medicine, 935 Ramsey Lake Rd., Sudbury, ON, Canada P3E 2C6
2Canadian Addiction Treatment Centers, 13291 Yonge St., Ste. 403., Richmond Hill, ON, Canada L4E 4L6

Correspondence should be addressed to David C. Marsh; ac.mson@hsramd

Received 26 May 2017; Accepted 15 January 2018; Published 11 February 2018

Academic Editor: Malcolm Clarke

Copyright © 2018 Brittanie LaBelle et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Rural patients with opioid use disorder (OUD) face a variety of barriers when accessing opioid agonist therapy (OAT) and psychiatric services, due to the limited supply of physicians and the vast geographic area. The telemedicine allows for contact between patients and their physician—regardless of physical distance. Objective. We characterize the usage of telemedicine to deliver psychiatric services to patients with OUD in Ontario, as well as traits of treatment-seeking patients with opioid dependence and concurrent psychiatric disorders. Methodology. A retrospective cohort study was conducted using an administrative database for patients who received psychiatric services via telemedicine between 2008 and 2014 and who also had OUD. Results. We identified 9,077 patients with concurrent opioid use and other mental health disorders who had received psychiatric services via telemedicine from 2008 to 2014; 7,109 (78.3%) patients lived in Southern Ontario and 1,968 (21.7%) in Northern Ontario. Telemedicine was used more frequently to provide mental health services to patients residing in Northern Ontario than Southern Ontario. Conclusion. Telemedicine is increasingly being utilized throughout Ontario for delivering mental health treatment. There is an opportunity to increase access to psychiatric services for patients with opioid dependence and concurrent psychiatric disorders through the use of the telemedicine.