Greater care in the community will lead to the geographic dispersal of psychiatric services and the role of communications technology will become increasingly important. McLaren et al (1991) described the potential role for new communications technology, such as interactive television, in the provision of psychiatric services but before resorting to new communications technology it will be important to ensure that full use is being made of existing technology such as the telephone. The telephone is widely used in the UK health service but poorly understood, in contrast to the USA where it has been recognised as an important medium for care delivery (Hallam, 1989). This pilot study was designed to gather information on the current role of the telephone in an acute psychiatric service and to aid the planning of the use of more advanced communications technology such as interactive television.
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